Silent heart attack (silent ischemia) has been found to leave scars on the heart. A silent heart attack is a heart attack with minimal, if any, symptoms. For this reason it is difficult to know when you are experiencing a heart attack, which can lead to further complications – even death. Some reports of a silent heart attack suggest it was confused with indigestion or even a bad flu.
Having a silent heart attack puts a person at greater risk of experiencing a future heart attack. The only way to determine if you are experiencing a silent heart attack is through an electrocardiogram, echocardiogram, or any other imaging of the heart.
Risk factors of a silent heart attack are similar to those of a normal heart attack, which include:
New research suggests that many Americans suffer from a silent heart attack, which leaves scars on the heart. Dr. Stacey Rosen from the Katz Institute for Women’s Health said, “We know that risk factors for heart disease – the number one killer of American men and women – are predominantly modifiable, so this finding gives further support to the notion that early identification and management of these risks is critical.”
The research teamed analyzed images of 1,800 hearts from a diverse group of individuals who did not have heart disease.
After 10 years the participants underwent heart imaging again, which revealed that eight percent of the individuals had scars on their heart, signalling that they experienced a heart attack.
Men were more likely to experience silent heart attacks compared to women, and other factors that contributed to heart scarring were smoking, being overweight, calcium-deposits and the use of blood pressure medication.
The researchers suggest that EKG performed in doctor’s offices can only detect small percentages of silent heart attacks and suggest that healthy lifestyle habits are necessary to reduce the risk of cardiovascular events.
The findings were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
A silent heart attack occurs when oxygen to the heart becomes reduced. There are many reasons why oxygen may become limited to the heart, including an obstruction in the arteries due to plaque build-up. The risk factors listed above can also contribute to the onset of a silent or normal heart attack.
Symptoms, if any, of a silent heart attack include:
Tips to prevent a silent heart attack include:
A heart attack, silent or normal, is a medical emergency and requires immediate attention from a doctor. Get yourself to a hospital as quickly as possible at the first sign of a heart attack.
At the hospital you will be put under oxygen therapy to prevent your heart from overworking. Medications like aspirin, morphine and nitroglycerine can be administered in order to relieve pain, open up blood vessels and lessen the detrimental effects of a heart attack.
While in the hospital, you will be monitored to ensure no long-term damage has been done. In recovery the doctor may prescribe daily medications or offer recommendations about lifestyle changes that are necessary to keep your heart healthy and prevent any future occurrences.