How Do You Know if You Have Had a Silent Heart Attack?
Since these types of heart attacks do not exhibit the classic symptoms of chest pain and shortness of breath, how can someone find out whether or not they have had one? A doctor can detect them with an EKG, which measures the heart's electrical activity. In fact, most of the time people only learn that they have had one accidentally, during a routine physical.
What Symptoms Could Indicate You are Having a Silent Heart Attack?
The symptoms of a silent heart attack can be very subtle, but anyone should see their doctor for a physical if they are experiencing several of the following symptoms:
Muscle pain in the upper back, jaw or arms
Often, people do not recognize that they have had a heart attack at the time. They only recognize these symptoms when a test shows damage to their heart and they look back and remember a time when they experienced some of the above symptoms.
Are These as Dangerous as "Typical" Heart Attacks?
Yes! In fact, silent heart attacks can be even more dangerous than a typical one, because the patient may not get the treatment they need in order to prevent another one. This lack of treatment is even more common for women than it is for men.
"Just a Little Heart Attack" is a short movie about silent heart attacks you can watch using the link to this CNN article: "Almost Half of All Heart Attacks are Silent."
How Can You Reduce Your Heart Attack Risk?
If you would like to reduce your risk of having a heart attack, either your first or a second one, there are some steps your doctor can help you take. You should quit smoking, lose weight, get exercise and, if appropriate, make sure your cholesterol and blood pressure are both under control.
Treatments for Silent Heart Attacks
Hospitals and doctors should treat you in the same way they would if you had experienced more traditional symptoms. There is no difference in the damage that could have been caused by the different types of heart attacks and, in fact, the damage could be more severe in a silent one because of a delay in seeking treatment, since any heart attack will stop or reduce the flow of blood to the heart for a period of time.
If you have been experiencing unusual fatigue, nausea or shortness of breath, especially during mild exercise, you should talk to your doctor about your symptoms.
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