Silent Heart Attack or Silent Myocardial Infarction (SMI)
Imagine a situation wherein if you don’t feel or experience the tell-tale signs of heart attacks that everyone is taught to recognize – and you actually experienced a heart attack – and it got completely unrecognized or unnoticed by you. It’s really very confusing. This is known as a “Silent Heart Attack” – Medically referred to as silent ischemia. It is very dangerous and life threatening.
Which means, a heart attack doesn’t always come with apparent signs – chest pain, cold sweats, and shortness of breath. For this reason, silent heart attacks are definitely more common than we think.
According to several recent studies – nearly about half of the heart attacks were silent as individuals who suffered from them remained unaware of their condition and didn’t seek treatment. Owing to which they had huge risk of dying.
In addition, people who suffer from a silent heart attack might remember later that they had heartburn, chest muscle spasm (chest muscle strain), indigestion or flu like symptoms.
Silent heart attack causes: Like any other typical heart attack, a silent heart attack involves blockage of blood flow to the heart resulting in heart muscle damage.
Why diabetes patients are more prone to silent heart attacks?
Diabetes patients have proneness to nerve disease or peripheral neuropathy – owing to which their nerves get damaged. High blood sugar levels and poor circulation account for the damage of nerve cells. Diabetes patients do not feel or experience pain as similar to those who don’t have diabetes. Even if they step on a nail, they don’t feel the nail that has been pierced deep into the skin. Therefore, diabetics are more prone to having silent heart attacks.
What are the signs of Silent Heart Attack?
Silent heart attack symptoms: Silent Myocardial Infarction (SMI) symptoms are very few or may mimic the symptoms of less severe health issues which most of the people don’t recognize as typical signs of heart attack. In other words, silent heart attack does not cause any tell-tale signs of a typical heart attack – which means severe, crushing chest pain, heaviness in the chest, breathing difficulty, uneasiness, discomfort, perspiration is not typically present with a silent heart attack.
Symptoms of Silent Heart Attack that Many people Miss to Notice
Many people feel as if they have a severe heartburn sensation or gastric trouble that may last for over one or two days.
Silent heart attack recovery: Possibly, people with a silent heart attack may feel weakness, dizziness, faintness – which may get resolved on its own or might increase in intensity. However, many times, the majority of the people who have had silent heart attacks had never felt or experienced any symptoms. Even if they feel the signs those signs would go on their own over time.
How can you prevent a silent heart attack?
To prevent a silent heart attack, follow a three-step approach:
- Step 1: If you think that you are at risk of heart attack and want to check whether you have any existing artery blockages then go for heart disease screening.
- Step 2: If you think that you are at risk owing to any other risk factors, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking and obesity, then go for screening.
- Talk to your doctor about the approaches that you should adopt to keep your risk factors under control.
- Take your prescribed medicines regularly. Stop smoking if you smoke.
- Step 3: Now focus more on your lifestyle – what you eat? How you work? When you sleep and how much do you keep yourself active throughout the day? Make necessary lifestyle changes – eat healthy, sleep well, get involve in exercise. A sedentary lifestyle can take you to a high-risk category – wherein the risk is almost 3 times more.
- Just 20 minutes of exercise a day can significantly reduce your risk of heart attacks.
In majority of the cases we witness regularly, by the time patients come to us they have already been subjected to heart muscle damage to a point where heart failure sets in. Therefore, I instruct my patients to listen to what your body is saying because you know your bodies best. Even in the absence of not so apparent signs of heart attack, if you feel something unusual or abnormal you must get it checked, tested, evaluated and diagnosed by a cardiologist.
In conclusion, my message for you is this: be active, vigilant and keep an eye on all the risk factors, manage those by adopting a healthy lifestyle – eat healthy and exercise. Take extra care and be more active if you have diabetes.