Heart attacks are one of the most common types of death each year, and seeking immediate medical treatment is often the only way to prevent a fatality. Sadly, many people do not get the help they need because they do not realize that they are having a heart attack. The common perception of a heart attack is that a victim will suddenly fall over clutching their chests and moaning in pain.
However, up to 30 percent of people who have a heart attack experience no symptoms.
What Are the Signs of a Heart Attack Without Symptoms?
Though a silent heart attack is often referred to as a symptom-less heart attack, what doctors really mean is that it is a heart attack without the typical symptoms associated with a heart attack. Normally, a heart attack is accompanied by chest pain, pressure in the chest, a cold sweat, a sudden feeling of weakness, and a feeling of anxiety. Sometimes, a person with a silent heart attack may just feel a little tired, chest tightness, shortness of breath, or discomfort in the neck or throat. Though most of the typical heart attack symptoms are not present during a silent heart attack, a person’s heart still is not receiving blood flow, which can damage the muscles and nerves of the heart.
What Are the Effects of a Silent Heart Attack?
Though the scary symptoms of a heart attack might not be immediately noticeable, this does not mean that a silent heart attack is any less severe than a typical heart attack.
When blood flow to the heart is stopped by a blockage in an artery or vein, the muscle fibers and neurons of the heart start to die from lack of oxygen. Some people may die from silent heart attacks, but even if the heart attack is not fatal, it still weakens the heart. The entire time that a person is not receiving treatment for a heart attack, they are unknowingly living with a damaged heart that can increase their risk of further, dangerous heart conditions. People who have a heart attack may end up with heart failure, a ruptured heart, abnormal heart rhythms, and damaged heart valves, and all of these conditions may be fatal.
How Can You Tell if You Have Had a Silent Heart Attack?
Often, people do not realize that they have actually had a heart attack until they start feeling the effects of living daily life with a damaged heart. Many people start to constantly feel tired and notice shortness of breath after mild physical exertion because the damaged heart cannot provide proper blood flow to the entire body.
This can take weeks or even months to be noticeable, and many heart attack victims are only diagnosed during their yearly checkup. If patients do not have an EKG or echocardiogram test during early checkups, it may take even longer for a heart attack to be diagnosed.
How Can You Prevent These Dangers?
Silent heart attacks without any noticeable symptoms are far more common among women. Therefore, if you are female, it is important to be aware that women do not normally have the same heart attack symptoms as men. It is important for patients of all genders to be aware of how minor heart attack symptoms can be. Regular checkups can diagnose a silent heart attack and get treatment as soon as possible, but it is still necessary to seek immediate medical attention if you are at risk for a silent heart attack and notice any unusual health issues.