Could you have suffered a “silent” heart attack? 25



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Have you ever felt a little short of breath, dizzy or simply not right? Astonishing new figures reveal that 6% of people may have suffered heart attacks without realising.

So-called “silent” heart attacks are a new phenomena that doctors are only beginning to understand. Here are the warning signs to look out for, and how to know if you’ve already been impacted.

According to Dr Travis Stork from Los Angeles, 1 in 16 people could have suffered heart attacks without realising. The tell-tale sign of this is scarring across heart muscles.

Silent heart attacks impact women more than men. In men, heart attacks typically mean that plaque “ruptures” along the arteries. This has an explosive impact that men are quick to recognise.

In women though, oestrogen can lower the risk of plaque ruptures. As a result, heart attacks can sometimes be a less “explosive” event.

“When the plaque doesn’t explode, and rather builds up slowly over time, it causes more… subtle symptoms”, explains Dr Suzanne Steinbaum from New York.

Therefore, there are certain signs women should look out for. Unexplained muscular pressure, tingling sensations, chest pain, stiffness, nausea and shortness of breath can signal a “silent” heart attack.

71% of women who have previously suffered heart attacks reported “unusual exhaustion” in the weeks before, whilst 50% had trouble sleeping prior to their attack.

Dr Stork believes that women are quick to shrug off physical discomforts, but should think twice before dismissing their health needs. “It gets back to intuition, to not ignoring (symptoms)”, he explained.

“When I hear ‘I just don’t feel right,’ that makes me instantly worried”, Dr Stork adds. “Women often worry that they (are over-reacting) by coming to the ER”.

A heart attack means that cells are actually dying, due to a lack of blood-flow into the impacted heart muscles.

“Poor blood flow means decreased oxygen, and when you’re not getting enough oxygen to any muscle, that muscle eventually starts dying”, explains Dr Stork.

Heart attacks can last several hours, but irreversible damage can be down after just 20 minutes of poor blood-flow. Therefore, getting to a hospital if you notice these warning signs could be critical.

Know the signs to watch out for, and if you’re ever in doubt seek medical attention. It’s surely better to be safe than sorry when it comes to silent heart attacks.

Have you suffered a “silent” heart attack? Has somebody you know been impacted? What warning signs to you look out for, when it comes to safeguarding your health?

Here is a dramatised (but no less informative) public health video about heart attacks:

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. They are NOT new. Far from it. My mother had one over 30 years ago that her specialist told me about at the time (in 1985).

  2. I had a silent heart attack around 2013. My doctor sent me in 2015 for a heart scan, next appointment was with a cardiologist who informed me that I had a silent heart attack about two years before. Had an angiogram and it showed three narrow arteries, unfortunately my arteries were too small for stents or open heart surgery. The muscle on the left side of my heart was damaged. So now I am on medications. I suffer from costochronditis and the symptoms resemble a heart attack. Luckily it was found in time and no I cannot pinpoint any time it would have occurred.

  3. My husband had one just before he died, i, d never heard of one before. His bypasses were 31 years old

  4. They are far from being a new phenomenon. I had one possibly two silent MIs prior to 1993. The extent of the damage was only found by having an echo-cardiogram and subsequently an angiogram after I changed jobs, moved to a new state had a medical and things were followed up.

  5. My husband had one a couple of years ago. He has type 2 diabetes and we have been told this gives him a higher risk of having another one.

  6. I had heart attack 10 days ago. Was off colour couple days. Sat watching tennis got pain in left side chest. Back left arm. Indigestion. Felt hot and clammy. Pain got worse rang ambo got hospital just in time. Got stent in had 95% blockage. Thank God I’m alive. Please don’t hesitate call ambo if false alarm so what. I’m 62

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  7. went on holiday to echuca years ago,didn’t feel good and that night thought it was my ulcer,found out later it was a silent heart attack,ended up with apo,was lucky,still here!

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