A silent heart attack may be silent, but the heart hears it well enough!
So, what exactly is a silent heart attack …
We know that a heart attack occurs when one, or more, of the coronary arteries which supplies blood to the heart muscle becomes blocked by a cholesterol build-up or a thrombus. The classic symptoms of a heart attack is a persistent crushing pain in the centre of the chest and general acute discomfort. This crushing feeling, often expressed as “an elephant sitting on my chest” generally wraps around the body like a vice and may spread to the arms, throat, jaw, back or abdomen. Whereas a "silent heart attack" is asymptomatic, meaning it takes place with no obvious pain or warning signs and few detectable symptoms.
Who are most at risk of having a silent heart attack?
While there are no specific rules, women, the elderly and people with diabetes are more likely to suffer from this problem. In fact, up to 25 percent of diabetics who've had a heart attack never feel any recognised warning symptoms. It has been suggested that damage to nerves that affect the heart could be the reason.
Changes on a patient’s ECG are often the first time that people who have suffered a silent heart attack find out they have heart disease.
Are silent heart attacks rare?
About 60% of people who have heart attacks say they didn't have the classic symptoms. But about half of these people will have experienced some unusual symptom, such as dizziness or a pain like indigestion, which they did not link to their heart when it occurred. Some common symptoms of silent heart attack include new or unusual shortness of breath, tiring easily, or discomfort in your chest, jaw, or arms that goes away when you rest.
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It is much easier to prevent a heart attack, be it silent or normal, than it is to cure its results. If medical assistance isn’t received in a short period of time after the attack, permanent damage to the heart muscle will occur. Fortunately, there are several simple steps that can be taken in order to reduce your overall risk, and live a longer, healthier life:
Know your cholesterol levels and eat a balanced low fat diet
Reduce your weight if you are overweight or obese
Try to do 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week
If you are diabetic, try to control your blood sugar levels
keep your blood pressure under control
Often people who have diabetes are overweight and have high blood pressure and high cholesterol, therefore it is very important to make these simple lifestyle modifications in order to reduce the risks of a silent heart attack. However, it is strongly advised that before starting any exercise routine you consult your doctor first.
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