A heart attack, also known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when your heart is deprived of oxygen. A heart attack is usually caused by a blood clot that prevents blood from passing through one of your coronary arteries.
A heart attack without traditional symptoms is known as a silent heart attack. In a silent heart attack, it is common to be unaware that you’re undergoing a heart attack. In fact, many people don’t realise it for weeks or months. According to new research, silent heart attacks account for roughly half of all heart attacks.
1. Causes of Silent Heart Attack
2. Symptoms of Silent Heart Attack
3. Treatment of Silent Heart Attack
Causes of Silent Heart Attack
When one or more of your coronary arteries get blocked, a heart attack occurs. Fatty deposits, including cholesterol, build up substances called plaque over time, narrowing the arteries (atherosclerosis). This condition is called coronary artery disease (CAD), which is the most common cause of heart attacks.
Plaque can break down during a heart attack, spilling cholesterol and other chemicals into the bloodstream. At the site of the breach, a blood clot forms. If the clot is large enough, it can restrict blood flow through the coronary artery, depriving oxygen and nourishment to the heart (ischemia).
The coronary artery may be completely or partially blocked.
Risk factors of a silent heart attack include smoking, diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, family history, lack of physical activity, stress, obesity, etc. Silent heart attacks are common in men over the age of 45 and women over the age of 55.
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Symptoms of Silent Heart Attack
- A silent heart attack can make you feel like:
- You’ve caught the flu.
- You have a sore muscle in your upper back or chest.
- You’re experiencing pain in your jaw, arms, or upper back.
- You’re exhausted.
- You’re suffering from indigestion.
- Chest Pain, Pressure, Fullness, or Discomfort
Pain caused by a heart attack can be instant and severe, making it easier to notice and to seek medical treatment. But what happens when it isn’t so obvious?
Most heart attacks cause just minor discomfort or pain in the centre of your chest. Pressure, squeezing, or fullness may also be felt. These symptoms normally appear gradually and may disappear and reappear.
There is a possibility of interpreting these as symptoms of something less serious, such as heartburn. However, you are the best judge of your own body. If you suspect something is wrong, you should not take it lightly and consult a doctor immediately.
- Difficulty in breathing
If you feel as if you’ve raced a marathon but you have simply walked up the stairs, it could be a symptom that your heart isn’t pumping enough blood to the rest of your body. Shortness of breath can occur with or without chest discomfort, and it’s a common symptom of a silent heart attack.
- Nausea and cold sweats
It is possible that waking up in a cold sweat, feeling sick or vomiting are flu symptoms, but they could also be signals of a silent heart attack. You may know how the flu feels because you’ve had it before, but listen to your instincts if you feel these flu-like symptoms are a sign of something more serious.
Treatment of Silent Heart Attack
Silent heart attacks are usually discovered after the incident has passed. The majority of the treatment will consist of taking medications such as aspirin, beta-blockers, statins, ACE inhibitors, etc.
These medications aid in the improvement of blood flow to the heart, the prevention of clotting, and the reduction of the risk of a recurrent heart attack. If you’ve had a heart attack, your doctor will also discuss lifestyle changes with you. These modifications can help you avoid more cardiac problems in future.