A silent heart attack is a heart attack that has little to no symptoms. It is also referred to as silent cardiac ischemia. This happens when there is a blockage in the coronary arteries that restrict critical blood flow to the heart. These blockages occur from a buildup of plaque in your arteries. The lack of blood flow causes damage to the heart that can be life-threatening.
What are the risk factors?
Your risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a regular heart attack. Some risk factors include the following:
- High blood pressure
- High cholesterol
- Family history of heart disease
While it was thought that women are at a higher risk for silent heart attacks, recent studies show that they are common in both men and women.
What are the signs and symptoms of a silent heart attack?
It is troubling to many that there are little to no signs of a silent heart attack. However, some have expressed feeling somewhat unusual when having a silent heart attack. Here are a few symptoms of a silent heart attack.
Chest Pain or Pressure
Regular heart attacks are known for sudden and severe pain, which makes it quite obvious that something serious is happening.
However, some feel minimal pain in their chest when having a silent heart attack. It is sometimes described as a feeling of pressure in their chest that feels similar to a pulled or strained muscle.
The chest pain associated with a silent heart attack is also described to be somewhat similar to indigestion. This makes it difficult to discern which is which. If you feel like something is not right with the pain you are feeling, it is best to have it checked by a medical professional.
Trouble with Breathing and/or Dizziness
If you find that your regular day-to-day activities make you unusually winded and/or dizzy, this could signify a silent heart attack. This may look like shortness of breath after walking up a flight of stairs or walking around the block. Heart attacks cause your heart not to get enough oxygen which makes it difficult to breathe and/or catch your breath.
Dizziness or feeling like you could faint after completing regular activities could also indicate that something serious is going on with your heart.
Nausea and Cold Sweats
Silent heart attacks can make a person feel like they have the flu. This means they might wake up with cold sweats and nausea. While it could possibly be the flu, make sure you are listening to what your body is telling you. If you feel like your symptoms are unusual or are accompanied by discomfort in your chest, it might be best to have it checked by a doctor.
Heart Attack vs. Angina
Angina is just another name for heart or chest pain. This is a very common type of pain that many experiences throughout their life. If you have chest pain and aren’t sure if it is a heart attack or just common chest pain, give it a couple of minutes to see if it goes away. You don’t want to wait too long, especially if you think something serious is happening. If the chest pain is persistent or gets worse, get immediate medical attention.
Remember that all heart attacks are medical emergencies and need immediate medical attention. You know your body the best, so if for any reason you think something serious is going on, seek out medical help as soon as possible.
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