Did you know you can have a heart attack and be totally unaware of it? You might picture a person clutching their chest in pain, gasping for breath, and collapsing to the ground. However, not all heart attacks are as dramatic or as easily recognized. Those which are not are called ‘silent heart attacks’, and they can be just as dangerous as their more noticeable counterparts. A silent heart attack occurs the same way a normal heart attack does: when one or more arteries that supply blood to the heart muscle get blocked. Without treatment, this blockage can cause permanent damage to the heart muscle and lead to serious health problems like heart failure and stroke.
Statistics from The American Heart Association (ref. link) show that 1,70,000 of the 8,05,000 heart attacks that occur in the United States each year are silent heart attacks. A ‘silent heart attack’ is a heart attack with unrecognised, mild, or no symptoms. It is also called a ‘Silent Ischemia’ or a ‘Silent Myocardial Infarction’(SMI), and is often misinterpreted as indigestion, excessive fatigue, or a strained muscle in the chest. Many times, when you get your ECG done as part of routine checkups, you end up being diagnosed with a heart attack that you had no idea you’d had.
One of the greatest risks of a silent heart attack is that it often goes undetected until it’s too late. Because there are usually no noticeable symptoms, people often don’t realise they’re having one until the heart muscle is severely damaged—which can happen very quickly. Most individuals who have a silent heart attack do not seek immediate treatment. This increases the likelihood of a second, potentially more severe heart attack, which can lead to complications such as heart failure and stroke. People who have a Silent heart attack but do not receive treatment are three times more likely to die from coronary artery disease (ref. link).
According to this study (ref. link), people who have experienced a silent heart attack have a 35% higher risk of developing heart failure than those who do not exhibit any symptoms of a heart attack. Silent heart attacks may also increase the risk of stroke (ref. link) later in life. All this considered, it should be clear that, over time, silent heart attacks are just as fatal as diagnosed ones.
The occurrence of Silent heart attacks are especially common for people with diabetes, making the condition a major risk factor for SMI. Due to the common side effect of nerve damage in diabetic patients, warning signs like chest pain may be harder to perceive. Silent myocardial infarction (SMI) is extensive and more severe in diabetic than in non-diabetic patients (ref. link).
The impact of a silent heart attack is similar to the impact of a heart attack with visible symptoms. People who experience a silent heart attack have a higher risk of:
Pay attention to the following warning signs (ref. link) and seek medical help to avoid further complications:
Studies (ref. link) show that females living with diabetes have an increased risk of having a silent heart attack. However, research from 2021 (ref. link) suggests that the incidence of silent heart attacks is higher in men than in women. Essentially, Silent Heart Attacks are incredibly prevalent, and everyone should be on the lookout for signs of one.
You can keep your heart healthy by doing the following:
Silent heart attacks are often diagnosed after the fact because you do not notice its symptoms. It is usually diagnosed when you visit a doctor for routine check-ups or for persistent symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, or heartburn.
Tests that help a doctor diagnose a silent heart attack are:
Patients who experience a silent heart attack require an aggressive diagnostic and therapeutic approach because they are likely to develop other heart complications.
After proper diagnosis, your doctor might prescribe medication (ref. link) like:
Finally, as mentioned above, one of the best things you can do for your heart is monitor it as much as possible. Purchase the revolutionary Frontier X2 to receive the most important heart health related data that will help keep you safe and healthy.
You may not notice any symptoms of silent heart attack, but few symptoms like discomfort in chest, pain in upper arms, or shortness of breath are often ignored as less serious problems.
Women, patients with diabetes, and those with hypertension are at high risk for silent heart attacks.
Most of the time, if you have a silent heart attack, you won’t be aware of it. Attacks tend to be discovered during routine medical examinations using ECG.
After a silent heart attack, your risk of suffering a second, potentially dangerous heart attack will increase. Once diagnosed with a history of SHI, it is crucial to seek medical attention.
Once the diagnosis has been made, treatment for a silent heart attack is as effective as treatment for a regular heart attack.
While a silent heart attack may not seem as serious as a traditional heart attack, the risks are just as great. A silent heart attack poses a greater risk than one with symptoms because it often goes undetected. Consult your healthcare provider if you think you have suffered a silent heart attack. Don’t wait until it’s too late – early detection is key when it comes to treating silent heart attacks. A review of your symptoms and medical history, as well as a physical examination, can assist your physician in determining if further tests are necessary. The good news is that silent heart attacks can be treated with the same medications and procedures used to treat traditional heart attacks.
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