What exactly constitutes a silent heart attack

What Is A Silent Heart Attack? Expert Shares Signs You Should Not Ignore

What Is A Silent Heart Attack? Expert Shares Signs You Should Not Ignore

Heart attacks, typically characterized by severe chest pain and intense discomfort, are widely recognized as a medical emergency. Yet, there exists a subtler, more elusive variant known as a ‘silent heart attack.’

Dr. Chetan Bhambure, Consultant Interventional Cardiologist at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mira Road, explained to the OnlyMyHealth team that this phenomenon often evades detection, as it lacks the dramatic symptoms typically associated with cardiac events.

What Is A Silent Heart Attack

“Silent heart attacks, medically known as silent myocardial infarctions, occur when a portion of the heart muscle is deprived of blood flow and sustains damage, yet the individual does not experience the typical symptoms like chest pain or discomfort,” explained Dr. Bhambure.

The absence of obvious signs makes detecting silent heart attacks challenging, often resulting in delayed recognition until complications arise. To address this issue, Dr. Bhambure highlighted several key characteristics of silent heart attacks:

  • Asymptomatic Nature: Unlike typical heart attacks, silent heart attacks frequently manifest without noticeable symptoms. This lack of warning signs can hinder timely diagnosis and treatment, potentially heightening the risk of complications.
  •  Mild Symptoms: Some individuals may encounter mild symptoms that are commonly attributed to less severe conditions, such as fatigue, shortness of breath, or indigestion. These subtle signs may not immediately raise concerns regarding a heart-related issue.
  •  Shared Risk Factors: Silent heart attacks share many risk factors with conventional heart attacks, including age, family history, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, and elevated cholesterol levels. Individuals possessing these risk factors should remain particularly vigilant.

Managing Silent Heart Attacks

Recognizing the signs of silent heart attacks is crucial before initiating treatment to prevent potential complications:

1. Delayed Treatment: Silent heart attacks often go unnoticed, leading to delayed treatment and increased risk of heart muscle damage.

2. Higher Mortality Risk: Research indicates that silent heart attacks may carry a higher mortality risk compared to recognized ones, primarily due to delayed diagnosis.

3. Recurrence: Individuals who’ve experienced silent heart attacks face a heightened risk of subsequent episodes, emphasizing the importance of regular medical monitoring.

Dr. Bhambure underscores the significance of routine health assessments, such as blood pressure checks, cholesterol screenings, and electrocardiograms (ECGs), for early detection.

He also emphasizes adopting a heart-healthy lifestyle, including balanced nutrition, regular exercise, and avoiding tobacco, to mitigate the risk of both traditional and silent heart attacks.

Silent heart attacks present a subtle yet significant threat to cardiovascular health. Recognizing their features, understanding associated risks, and employing early detection methods are pivotal for intervention and prevention. By maintaining vigilance, embracing heart-healthy habits, and scheduling regular check-ups, individuals can proactively safeguard against the impact of silent heart attacks and preserve their heart health.