Silent Heart Attacks

May 13, 2007 by  

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By Eric Hartwell

Heart attacks, known by their medical name of acute myocardial infarction, is a state of disease that involves the interruption of the bloody supply to part of the heart. The result is a shortage of oxygen that can damage the heart tissue and potentially kill. Heart attacks are the leading cause of death all over the world. Major heart attack risk factors include a history of angina or vascular disease, a previous stroke or heart attack, old age, excessive alcohol, the abuse of illegal drugs, smoking, episodes of abnormal heart beat, obesity, high levels of stress, high or low cholesterol, high triglyceride levels, high blood pressure, and diabetes.

“Myocardial infarction” is a term derived from the scientific terms for the heart muscle, myocardium, and tissue death as a result of lack of oxygen – infarction. It should be noted that sudden cardiac death is different from a heart attack; a heart attack may or may not result in sudden cardiac death.

Symptoms of heart attacks include anxiety, a feeling of impending doom, chest pain, sweating, shortness of breath, palpitations, nausea, and vomiting. Oftentimes, heart attack patients will feel sick very suddenly. The symptoms for heart attacks in men are often different from the symptoms in women. Women most often experience fatigue, shortness of breath, and a feeling of weakness. About one third of all heart attacks are silent and do not consist of any chest pain or associated symptoms.

Silent heart attacks can be identified by studying one’s medical history, testing the blood regularly for cardiac enzymes, and measuring one’s heart activity via electrocardiograms. When one is having a silent heart attack, it is necessary to restore blood flow to the heart immediately in order to prolong life. This restoration of blood flow can be accomplished via the dissolution of clots in the artery, or through an angioplasty, in which the artery is pushed open with the help of a balloon. Sometimes, the two methods are employed simultaneously.

Silent heart attacks are more common than you may believe. It has been estimated that around a quarter of all those who have had heart attacks in the past did not have such symptoms as arm pain, crushing pressure in the chest, or feelings of weakness.

Common silent heart attack symptoms include chest discomfort, or pains in the arm and/or jaw that go away after you rest, getting tired easily, and experiencing shortness of breath. Of course chest pain is the most common symptom of all heart attacks. It is followed by shortness of breath. Many heart attack patients also report having experienced an overwhelming feeling of doom.

It has been found that aspirin can greatly aid those who are in the process of having a heart attack. If you feel that you have had a silent heart attack, it is recommended that you take a non-acetaminophen aspirin afterwards. This can greatly reduce the amount of damage done to the heart. But most of all, if you feel like you have had a heart attack or are at risk for one, seek medical attention immediately.

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NOTE: The contents in this blog are for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as medical advice, diagnosis, treatment or a substitute for professional care. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health professional before making changes to any existing treatment or program. Some of the information presented in this blog may already be out of date.

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