World Heart Day 2018: What is a silent heart attack? 8 tell-tale signs and symptoms, causes of a heart attack

A recent research suggests that about 45 per cent of all heart attacks are silent. Here are 8 common warning signs and symptoms of a silent heart attack you must know.

Know these warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack

Know these warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack  |  Photo Credit: Thinkstock

New Delhi: Often we tend to think about a myocardial infarction or MI as a pretty dramatic event, but the fact is that a heart attack does not always cause obvious symptoms. A recent research suggests that about 45 per cent of all heart attacks are silent. A silent heart attack is a heart attack that happens without causing noticeable symptoms. According to health experts, silent heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart muscle is severely reduced or cut off completely. World Heart Day, marked every year on September 29, aims to raise awareness about cardiovascular disease, including stroke and heart attack, across the globe.

Alarmingly, statistics indicate that about 25 per cent of all heart attacks are seen in people below the age of 40 years. Although a silent heart attack is is often symptomless, the risk of an individual dying is the same as that during a symptomatic heart attack. Silent heart attacks tend to strike men more often than women, but both the sexes are equally at risk. 

What are the signs and symptoms of a silent heart attack?

A heart attack is a serious medical emergency in which the blood supply to the heart is suddenly blocked, often due to a blood clot. The warning signs and symptoms of a heart attack can vary from person to person, however, the classic symptoms of silent heart attack may include:

  • Severe fatigue or physical discomfort
  • Lightheadedness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Poor sleep
  • Age-related ache or pain
  • Indigestion or other gastrointestinal distress

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The problem is that these are often confused as gastric reflux and heartburn. A lack of knowledge about these signs can delay timely diagnosis and treatment. Perhaps, the location of pain can be misdiagnosed at times. For instance, while some people feel a sharp pain on the left side, a symptom often associated with a heart attack – some may experience a discomfort in the centre of the chest.

According to Dr Suman Bhandari of Fortis Hospital, Noida, many people also feel completely normal during and after a silent heart attack which further increases the probability of missing the warning signs. “Recurring silent heart attacks can cause scarring and damage to the heart. In the absence of treatment, this condition multiplies the risk of a second and potentially more harmful heart attack,” Dr Bhandari told ANI.

How to prevent a heart attack

Being aware of the condition, including your risk factors, and getting evaluated at the right time is key to preventing further complications. Factors that raise your risk of a heart attack include diabetes, smoking, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a strong family history of heart disease, and a sedentary lifestyle. To prevent a heart attack, it’s important to make healthier lifestyle choices, such as eating a heart-healthy diet, staying physically active, not smoking, managing any health condition that may raise your risk of heart disease.


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