Almost half of all heart attacks are silent and women are more likely to die from these kinds of heart attacks according to a new study in the journal Circulation. The study published this week found 45% of all heart attacks are silent and that silent heart attacks triple your risk of dying from heart disease. Learn the symptoms of silent heart attack and what you should do.
“Silent heart attacks are almost as common as heart attacks with symptoms and just as bad,” said senior study author Dr. Elsayed Soliman.
Over 1 million Americans have a heart attack each year–one every 43 seconds. “And because patients don’t know they have had a silent heart attack, they may not receive the treatment they need to prevent another one,” according to Dr. Soliman.
Symptoms of Silent Heart Attack
Silent heart attacks can be detected with a careful medical history and an ECG heart tracing. Missing a silent heart attack increases your mortality by 34% according to this recent study.
According to Dr. Michael Freedman of Evolve Medical, “Any symptoms that occur with exertion or while running errands, that then goes away within 15-30 minutes of resting (or slowing down) is worrisome.” He adds, “Don’t focus on the word “pain.” It may be a “discomfort” of almost any sort–maybe even “heartburn”– but if it always happens during exertion and always goes away shortly after resting, that is worrisome.“
Below are the most frequently cited symptoms of a silent heart attack:
- Fatigue with exertion (feeling tired and not able to do your usual activities)
- Nausea with exertion or even vomiting
- Heartburn with exertion (“heartburn” and heart-related chest pain can be very difficult to tell apart)
- Discomfort associated with exertion in any or all of these locations:
- Lower jaw
- Shoulder (either side)
- Left OR right arm
- Upper back
- Shortness of breath with exertion (different from your expected amount of shortness of breath)
Silent Heart Attacks in Women
Women are more likely to die of a silent heart attack. Some believe it is because doctors (and women themselves) are more likely to attribute their symptoms to other chronic conditions. Others have speculated it is because women tend to focus on their family’s health instead of their own.
Many women are very attentive to their routine preventative care but are not aware that heart disease kills 1 out of every 3 women. According to GoRedforWomen.org, know your risk factors, be aware of your blood pressure and cholesterol, exercise regularly and avoid smoking to decrease your risk of a heart attack. Above all, listen to your body, and if something isn’t right, talk to a doctor.
Silent Heart Attack: Same Risk as Regular Heart Attack
What should be done once someone is found to have a silent heart attack? Everything that one would do for someone that had a ‘regular’ heart attack. “The modifiable risk factors are the same for both kinds of heart attacks,” Dr. Soliman said. “Doctors need to help patients who have had a silent heart attack quit smoking, reduce their weight, control
cholesterol and blood pressure, and get more exercise.”
If we miss a silent heart attack, we miss the opportunity to prevent the second heart attack. Dr. Freedman at Evolve suggests, “When in doubt, check it out. And don’t wait days or weeks to mention it during a routine visit.”
If you have any questions or have been experiencing one of the above symptoms, see your primary care physician immediately. Evolve Medical is also happy to see you. Same day scheduling on-line here or call 844-322-4222. Or email them at [email protected].