Question

Heart Attack

What is a silent heart attack?

A Answers (5)

  • AAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    So-called silent heart attacks are episodes in which part of the heart is damaged when something blocks blood flow through a coronary artery, but the symptoms that accompany the blockage are so subtle that they go unnoticed or are ignored. Silent heart attacks are usually discovered when a person undergoes an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram for a different reason and the test shows abnormalities suggestive of damage to the heart.

    Just because a heart attack didn't cause chest pain or other severe symptoms doesn't mean it shouldn't be taken seriously. Individuals who have had silent heart attacks are at high risk of having additional episodes, one of which could be fatal or cause enough damage to lead to heart failure. If you have had a silent heart attack, you should be every bit as attentive to controlling your risk factors for atherosclerosis as someone who has had the traditional "noisy" kind.
  • AHealthwise answered

    A silent heart attack is one in which a person does not feel typical symptoms of a heart attack, such as:

    • Chest pain or pressure, or a strange feeling in the chest.
    • Sweating.
    • Shortness of breath.
    • Nausea or vomiting.
    • Pain, pressure, or a strange feeling in the back, neck, jaw, or upper belly, or one or both shoulders or arms.
    • Lightheadedness or sudden weakness.
    • A fast or irregular heartbeat.

    This type of heart attack is usually not detected unless there are symptoms of another condition, such as heart failure, at the same time. It may not be discovered until later, during a routine physical exam.

    A silent heart attack may occur when the nerves in the heart have been damaged by high blood sugar due to diabetes. Because the heart attack does not cause symptoms, it is ignored or not noticed and often causes more damage to the heart. In a person with diabetes, the only signs of a heart attack may be a rising blood sugar level and weakness that does not go away after eating sugar.

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    • ALinda Martinez, Cardiac Care Nursing, answered on behalf of Honor Society of Nursing (STTI)

      Sometimes people will find out they had a "silent" heart attack when they have an electrocardiogram (ECG) done for something other than their heart.  For instance, an ECG is often done before an elective surgery prior to receiving anesthesia.  When questioning a patient about a silent heart attack, often the heart attack wasn't really silent.  Some patients may recall a time when they felt really ill with what they thought was severe heart burn.  Severe heart burn unrelieved by antacids can sometimes be a symptom of heart disease.  Diabetics are a population that often have "silent" heart attacks.  For this reason, diabetics are often treated as if they already have heart disease and will be encouraged to take a baby aspirin a day and treated with cholesterol lowering drugs.

    • ASusie Whitworth, PhD, Nursing, answered
      A silent heart attack occurs in the absence of chest pain. A silent heart attack is caused by the same factors that cause angina. Silent heart attacks affect people who do not have any symptoms of heart attack and have no evidence of coronary heart disease, people who have had a heart attack in the past, and people with angina who also have episodes of silent heart attack. The cause of the silent heart attack is unknown.
    • ADiscovery Health answered

      A silent heart attack, like its name implies, never gives any warning signs until it is too late.

      One study, conducted in Massachusetts, found that roughly 25 percent of heart attacks were discovered only later during routine exams because they gave off no warning signals.

      The best way to avoid permanent damage, then, is to get regular heart screening check ups if you suspect you are at risk.

      Helpful? 1 person found this helpful.
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