Showing posts with label heart attack prevention. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heart attack prevention. Show all posts

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Dangerous Silent Heart Attacks

A study that tracked nearly 9,500 men and women from 1987 to 2013 discovered that approximately 45% of heart attacks are silent and the victims have no idea that they have experienced a heart event.  Men are more likely to experience silent heart attacks, but women are more likely to die from them.  In fact, anyone who has experienced a silent heart attack has triple the risk of dying from heart disease and is 34% more likely to die from all other causes.

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:

Unexplained fatigue
Muscle pain in the upper back, jaw or arms
Painful indigestion
Sudden sweatiness
Flu-like symptoms

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.

Interested in learning more about medical issues, financial planning, where to retire, Social Security, Medicare, or other topics that pertain to Baby Boomers?  Use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of the page to find links to hundreds of additional articles.

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Wednesday, October 7, 2015

When Will You Have Your Heart Attack?

Heart disease is the most common cause of death in the United States, despite gains that have been made in fighting this disease over the past few decades.    Even though the number of deaths from heart disease have been cut in half since 1960, about 30% of Americans will still die as a result of cardiovascular disease.  According to Harvard Health, at least one-half of all heart disease deaths could be prevented, if people would control the risk factors that are modifiable: smoking, obesity, diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol.  In some cases, you may also have risk factors that are much harder or impossible to control:  your age, genes, and air pollution in your area, for example.

Since so many of us are likely to suffer from heart disease as we age, we need to know when we are most likely to have a heart attack.  In that way, we can be more vigilant about watching for symptoms in ourselves and our loved ones.

What are Common Heart Attack Symptoms?

Before we learn the times when we are most likely to have a heart attack, we need to know what symptoms we should watch for.  Briefly, they are:  

Unusual indigestion or nausea
Chest pain
Pain in the arm, back, shoulders or jaw
Unexplained sweating
Shortness of breath
Light headedness or dizziness
Irregular heartbeat or an intense heartbeat
A feeling of anxiety or impending doom

When Do Heart Attacks Happen?

If you, your spouse or your parents are experiencing any of the events listed below, you need to be aware that there are certain times when a person is most likely to experience a heart attack.  They are not the only times when you could have a heart attack, but you need to be especially aware if any of these things are going on in your life. There are six types of situations when researchers have noticed clusters of heart events:

The death of someone close to you - The heightened risk is strongest during the first week of grief; however, according to Swedish researchers, the elevated risk can actually last for several years!  If you are grieving the loss of someone you cared about, pay extra attention if you also seem to be experiencing any of the signs of a heart attack.

Catching the Flu - For the next three days after developing the flu, you are four times more likely to have a heart attack.  Be sure to contact your doctor if you are feeling exceptionally ill following the flu.

Experiencing a natural disaster - Isn't it awful enough to have to go through a natural disaster?  To make matters worse, survivors are three times as likely to have a heart attack over the following three weeks.

An exciting sporting event - We have all seen the movies in which someone gets so excited about a special event that they have a heart attack.  This is not so far-fetched.  Heart attack risk goes up for sports fans who get particularly emotional about their favorite sporting events.

Mondays - Yes, the first day we go back to work after being off for a few days can make us more prone to a heart attack.  Of course, we all have to go back to work sooner or later, so the best way to lesson your risk of a heart attack on Mondays is to try to start the week off as calmly as possible ... with yoga, a walk or meditation.

Shoveling snow - This is a chore that should probably be left to people who are young, healthy and in good physical shape.  The combination of cold weather and hard labor can make people more prone to a heart attack.  Take it easy.  It isn't worth the risk.

When Are You Most Like to Die of a Heart Attack?

Above you learned about the times when you are most likely to have a heart attack.  However, do you know there are certain times when you are more likely to actually die of a heart attack?  What are those days and why are they more lethal than others?

December 25, December 26 and New Year's Day are the days when you are most likely to die of a heart attack.  The cardiac event may have been triggered by drinking too much, cold weather, stress over money spent on gifts, or difficulty coping with family issues during the holidays.

Why are people more likely to actually die when a heart attack occurs on those days?

*  After over-eating a large holiday meal, the patient may mistake a heart attack for indigestion.

*  Some people may not want to disrupt the holiday festivities with a trip to the hospital, especially if they think it is just indigestion.  They don't want to interrupt the fun their family members are having.

*  By the time the patient wakes up the next day and realizes they still feel bad, it could be too late.  Patients should not wait more than 12 hours after the onset of symptoms before they seek treatment.

For the same reasons that people die on December 25, December 26 and New Year's Day,  people can sometimes be more prone to death during Hanukkah, while enjoying birthday celebrations or other special days.

If you are looking for more health and retirement information, use the tabs or pull down menu at the top of this page to find links to hundreds of additional, helpful articles.

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"The Most Dangerous Times for Your Heart," Reader's Digest Magazine, October 2014