What Causes a Silent Heart Attack?
A silent heart attack, also medically referred to as Silent Myocardial Infarction (SMI) is a petrifying experience. In this type of heart attack, one does not get to know it's occurrence because it occurs without any obvious symptoms. The symptoms if any, are quite minor and are often mistaken for indigestion, heartburn, muscle pain, nausea or a bad case of the flu.
More often than not, a person getting a silent heart attack may not even be aware of it. This leads to the heart attack getting unnoticed for several days, months or even years after its presentation. The diagnosis of a silent heart attack is only made retrospectively catching both the doctor and the patient by surprise.
What makes this particular form of heart attack different from regular heart attacks is that it does not exhibit the typical symptoms of a heart attack like severe chest pain, shortness of breath, pain in the jaw and arms or cold sweats.In this article, we will discuss the silent attack symptoms and their treatment.
Symptoms of Silent Heart Attack
Just as the name signifies the symptoms of a silent heart attack is often so mild and brief that they are disregarded for other regular discomforts and less serious health problems. For instance, some may feel fatigued or physical discomfort and easily brush them aside for overwork, poor sleep or some other age-related bodily pain.
The other typical symptoms of a silent heart attack like throat pain or chest pain are also often confused for gastric reflux, indigestion, and heartburn. The location of chest pain in a silent heart attack is often misunderstood. In a silent heart attack, the person feels mild chest pain in the middle of the chest instead of severe pain on the left side of the chest.
Few of the other silent heart attack symptoms are;
- Difficulty breathing
- Discomforts in the upper bodies like neck, shoulder or back pain
- Discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts several minutes or goes and comes back
Diagnosing the symptoms can be difficult because some symptoms like difficulty in breathing and dizziness are either minimum or not present at all. They vary from one individual to another. Having a silent heart attack can increase the chances of getting one more heart attack, which can be life-threatening.
Therefore, it is advisable to consult your medical practitioner so that you can keep an eye on your heart health. An analysis of the signs, medical history, and physical examination can help the doctor in deciding if you need some more medical tests. If you notice any symptoms, then go to the hospital immediately. If a silent heart attack goes unnoticed, it can cause massive damage to the heart. Hence, it is crucial to be aware of the signs of a silent heart attack. These signs do not always mean that you will get a heart attack; they can be mild, but it is better to be alert. You may experience the following signs:
- Shortness of breath
- Cold sweat or nausea
- Uneasiness in the different parts of the body such as arms, back, and stomach
- Discomfort in the center of the chest that may cause pain.
If you experience any of these signs of a silent heart attack, do not take it lightly and consult a doctor on priority.
Causes of Silent Heart Attack
The causes of silent heart attacks are the same as that of a typical heart attack. Over the years, plaque builds up in the coronary arteries, thereby narrowing the arteries and restricting the blood and oxygen flow to the heart muscle. These plaque deposits can suddenly rupture. This rupture causes a blood clot to form in the artery causing a complete blockage of blood and oxygen to the heart leading to a heart attack. Most often, these artery blockages cause severe pain.
Risk Factors for a Silent Heart Attack
The various risk factors for a silent heart attack are as follows:
- Smoking and Chewing Tobacco
- High Cholesterol Levels
- High Blood Pressure
- Sedentary Lifestyle
- Unhealthy food habits
- Gender - females are more prone to silent heart attack
Silent Heart Attack Treatment
In many cases silent heart attacks go unnoticed and as such people do not seek any kind of medical intervention. If you feel any of the symptoms mentioned above, it's always recommended to consult a doctor rather than brushing it aside. Silent heart attack treatment usually involves medications. These medicines help improve the blood flow to the heart, prevent clotting and reduce the risk of another heart attack. The silent heart attack treatment can be done effectively by taking medicines. The varied medications typically used for the treatment of heart attack are:
- ACE Inhibitors
The silent heart attack treatment should be taken early, along with other preventive measures. Furthermore, anyone who experienced a silent heart attack needs a treatment that depends on the result of a stress test. If anyone has experienced a silent heart attack, they should get all the treatment like any other person has suffered a heart attack. The silent heart attack treatment should aim at:
- Preventing ischemia with medicines
- Refraining the risk of heart failure
- Preventing sudden death caused by cardiac arrhythmias
A silent heart attack can be as risky as other heart attacks. It causes damage to the heart and puts you at a higher risk of heart issues. Once the medical condition is diagnosed, the doctor can assess the risk factors and create a silent heart attack treatment strategy.
In addition to medications doctors also encourage patients to change their lifestyle and adopt a healthier and active lifestyle like making dietary changes, regular exercise and physical activity and quitting smoking.
Can Silent Heart Attacks Be Prevented?
The best way to prevent a silent heart attack is by adopting a healthier lifestyle, which includes making the following changes;
- Quit smoking and also avoid second-hand smoke
- Eating low fat and low cholesterol diet
- Regular exercise or some physical activity
- Controlling blood pressure levels
- Manage stress
- Managing blood sugar levels in case of diabetics
The unpredictability of silent heart attacks makes it a dangerous health affliction that can prove to be fatal. As such it is best advised to keep a check on your health and also go for regular annual health checks to catch any kind of heart and health issue. Nip it in the bud before it causes any serious health scare.
With the rising cost of quality healthcare, it is also important to keep a tab on your financial health and invest smartly in good health insurance for yourself and your loved one so that you are not caught unaware. Even for cases of silent heart attack, which may be diagnosed much later after its initial presentation, you can stay financially protected with Religare's Care Heart insurance plan that covers pre-existing heart illnesses.