Showing posts with label heart disease symptoms. Show all posts
Showing posts with label heart disease symptoms. 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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Thursday, August 7, 2014

Heart Attacks - The Top Cause of Death in Women

As I write this post, it has been less than a week since my husband suffered a heart attack.  I took him to the emergency room six days ago with chest pains and indigestion.  They immediately began testing him for signs of a heart attack and, within 36 hours, surgeons had completed an angiogram and inserted a stint in one of his coronary arteries.

While heart disease has long been recognized as a common health issue for men as they age, many doctors are less likely to be concerned about it in women.  This is despite the fact that, according to the Centers for Disease Control, the number one cause of death in all women, regardless of race or ethnicity, is heart disease.  Even when broken down by groups, heart disease is the top cause of death in both black and white women, and is the number two cause of death (after cancer) in women who are Hispanic, American Indian or Asian/Pacific Islander.

I recently attended a heath fair that was sponsored by the Laguna Beach Community Clinic and they provided me with detailed information about heart disease in women.  This is an issue that every women should worry about, particularly since many women and their doctors still think of heart disease as a man's illness.

While a man having a heart attack is likely to experience extreme fatigue, feelings of indigestion, sweating and chest pain, a women will have symptoms that can be much more subtle.  For this reason, it is important that every woman be able to recognize when she should see her doctor or insist on being taken to the hospital.

Symptoms of Heart Disease or a Heart Attack in Women

Feeling extremely tired, even after a good night's sleep
Difficulty breathing
Difficulty sleeping
Indigestion or nausea
A pain in the belly, above the belly button
A nervous, scared feeling for no clear reason
New or worse headaches than you have ever had
An ache, heaviness, tightness or burning feeling in the chest
An unusual pain in the back, especially between the shoulder blades
A tightness or pain in the chest, especially if it spreads to the neck, jaw, shoulders, ears or inside the arms.

If you are experiencing the above feelings, and especially if you are suffering from several of them, seek medical attention right away.  Do NOT be too embarrassed to go to the emergency room.  Far too many people have died because they didn't want to be embarrassed by going to the hospital when all they had was a bad case of gas or indigestion.  It is much better to have it checked out than wait until it is too late.

How to Reduce Your Risk of Heart Disease

Fortunately, there are a few things that people can do to reduce their risk of developing heart disease.  While you may not be able to eliminate it completely, you will still want to postpone it as long as possible.

Be aware if heart disease runs in your family
Get preventative care by seeing your doctor regularly for check-ups
Do not smoke and avoid second-hand smoke, especially if you use birth control
Have your blood pressure checked and take medication, if necessary
If you have diabetes, keep it under control
Have your cholesterol levels checked regularly and take medication, if necessary
Get exercise; just taking a daily walk can make a big difference
Eat a healthy diet, including reducing the salt in what you eat
Control your stress by practicing yoga, meditation or other stress control measures

Follow your doctor's recommendations regarding any other steps you should be taking to maintain your health.  Some of these measure, such as not smoking, will also protect you from the second leading cause of death in women ... cancer.  Therefore, no matter which medical issue worries you the most, the lifestyle changes mentioned above are still a good idea.

If you are interested in learning more about medical concerns that could affect you as you age, use the tab at the top of this article.  You will want to check out the other tabs, too, for help with your retirement planning.


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