The medical term for a heart attack is myocardial infarction, which means death of the tissue of the heart muscles. A heart attack in general, is caused by the blockage of blood and oxygen supply to the heart. This is usually caused by a condition known as atherosclerosis, or narrowing of the arteries that carry oxygenated blood to the heart. Due to the lack or reduced supply of oxygen, the heart tissues of that particular area can die, causing significant damage to the heart. This usually causes severe chest pain and numbness in the left hand.
What is a Silent Heart Attack?
In case of a silent heart attack, it may not produce such serious symptoms, due to the death of the nerves around the heart. A silent heart attack is characterized by the absence of any distinguishing symptom of a regular heart attack, like chest pain for example. Chest pain can be termed as the most common symptom of a heart attack, but silent heart attacks are generally not accompanied by severe chest pain. Therefore, the most notable characteristic of this condition is that it can occur without your knowledge. This condition accounts for almost 25 to 30% of the total cases of heart attacks across the globe.
The symptoms of a silent heart attack are generally very mild, and they mostly go unnoticed, and hence undiagnosed, and this condition is often known as a silent killer.
- Generally, mild discomfort in the chest, like some pressure or a squeezing in the middle of the chest, and shortness of breath, may be present. These symptoms usually subside after taking some rest.
- Sleep disturbances and increased fatigue are other indications of this condition. Therefore, even these mild symptoms should be attended to properly, when experienced.
- It may also produce a symptom of prolonged abdominal pain in both men and women.
- It can cause heartburn and clamminess of the skin, particularly in women.
- Some other common symptoms are dizziness and nausea, which can also lead to vomiting.
- A tingling sensation or discomfort felt in the left arm or shoulders could also be a symptom that could lead to atypical heart attack.
The individuals who fall under the risk zone for this condition are:
- People suffering from obesity
- Those affected by high cholesterol
- Individuals who never exercise
- Patients of high blood pressure
- Those with a family history of heart attacks
The ways of diagnosing this condition are similar to the ones for heart attacks in general.
- They are usually diagnosed with the help of a detailed study of the patient's medical history, and an ECG (electrocardiogram).
- Blood tests are also carried out to determine the level of cardiac enzymes present.
- Some commonly used drugs like aspirin and beta blockers are prescribed.
Chest pain, which is generally regarded as the most common symptom of a heart attack, may not be present in the case of a silent heart attack. Therefore, even the mildest symptom should be properly checked, to avoid any serious complication. In addition to prompt treatment, changes in the lifestyle of the individual are also essential to control the risk factors. Therefore, regulating and monitoring diabetes and hypertension, and avoiding smoking, following a healthy diet containing fresh vegetables and fruits, regular exercise, and controlling the level of blood cholesterol, can be effective in warding off the risk(s) for this condition.
Even though it is a silent heart attack, it can seriously damage the cardiac muscle tissues. Hence, a regular cardiac checkup is essential for every individual. Do not be hesitant in contacting your health care provider for any further queries.
Disclaimer: This HealthHearty article is for informative purposes only, and should not be used as a replacement for expert medical advice.