Recognizing the signs of a silent heart attack
While we often assume that a heart attack will involve easily recognized symptoms, it’s very common for those who have had a heart attack to suffer what is often called a ‘silent heart attack.’ In this event, symptoms may seem unrelated to the heart or not be seen for what they are.
In this video, cardiologist Chris Salmon, MD, explained the signs and symptoms of a silent heart attack and how to know if you should seek immediate emergency care.
“With silent heart attacks, people don’t have those classic symptoms,” said Dr. Salmon. “Symptoms can happen off and on and not be immediately obviously related to a problem with the heart.”
Dr. Salmon noted that the following symptoms could be a sign of a heart attack, even without the telltale arm or chest pain:
- Brief chest discomfort
- Abdominal pain
- A persistant pain that seems like heartburn
- Feeling like ‘something is off’ that is hard to define
- Unexplained nausea
“Men and women often show different symptoms of a heart attack,” said Dr. Salmon. “Women are more likely to experience those silent heart attack symptoms and less likely to have the ‘traditional’ symptoms of strong or sharp chest pains.”
Dr. Salmon noted that women are at a higher risk for these types of heart attacks, and also that people with diabetes, obesity or those who are older than age 55 are also more likely to have a heart attack without those typical symptoms.
To help prevent heart attacks, follow a heart-healthy diet, don’t smoke (and quit if you currently smoke), stay active and exercise regularly and keep up with your regular well-check appointments at your primary care physician’s office.
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