ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Every 40 seconds someone in America has a heart attack and over 800 thousand people die every year from heart attacks. One in five heart attacks are silent, meaning blockage of blood flow to the heart starts and the person is completely unaware. There are many silent warning signs that could make the difference between life and death.
Jeff Schussler, MD, Interventional Cardiologist & Medical Dir. of the Cardiovascular ICU at Baylor Scott & White Health explains, “Over half the people that are going to die in America are going to die of cardiovascular disease.”
Every minute in the United States, someone will experience a heart attack and 12 percent of people will die from it. The known symptoms are rapid chest pains, but that’s not always the case.
Annabelle Volgman, MD, Medical Director at Rush Heart Center for Women says, “I had a patient who had a toothache that turned out to be her symptom for having a heart attack.”
There are many lesser-known signs of a heart attack. Silent signs that may come on more gradually include things such as tooth aches, cold sweats, pain in the arms, neck, or jaw, and difficulty digesting. Also, sudden bursts of anxiety or feelings of impending doom.
And while heart attacks are more common in men, women are more likely to experience gradual and lesser-known symptoms and are more likely to die. Helping you spot silent killers.
Early symptoms occur in 50 percent of cardiovascular health issues and are ignored. While heart attacks most commonly occur in middle age, anyone at any age can experience a cardiac emergency.
Contributors to this news report include: Ally Stratis, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.
UNVEILING THE SILENT SIGNS OF HEART ATTACKS
BACKGROUND: The leading cause of death for men and women in the United States is heart disease, and around 805,000 people have a heart attack each year. Plaque builds up in the arteries of a person with heart disease, causing the inside of the arteries to begin to narrow, which lessens or blocks the flow of blood. Plaque can also rupture or break open. When this occurs, a blood clot can form on the plaque, blocking the flow of blood, leading to a heart attack. About one in five heart attacks are silent, where the damage is done, but the person is not aware of it. High blood pressure, high blood cholesterol, and smoking are key risk factors for heart disease. There are several other medical conditions and lifestyle choices that can put people at a higher risk for heart disease, including diabetes, overweight and obesity, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity, and excessive alcohol use.
SIGNS OF A SILENT HEART ATTACK: The silent signs of a heart attack are ones that have no symptoms, mild symptoms, or symptoms people don’t connect to a heart attack. Silent heart attacks may be more common in women, and it’s estimated that nearly 50 to 80 percent of all heart attacks are silent. Silent heart attacks have been linked to a higher risk of heart failure. Symptoms can make you feel like you have the flu; you have a sore muscle in your chest or upper back; you have an ache in your jaw, arms, or upper back; you are very tired; or you have indigestion. A doctor may suggest a coronary angioplasty to open a blood vessel that got too narrow or clogged, or a stent can be put inside the blood vessel to keep it open so blood can flow through. In some cases, you may need a coronary artery bypass graft to create a way for blood to go around the clogged area.
NEW RESEARCH LINKS SILENT HEART ATTACKS TO STROKE: According to recent research that was presented at the American Stroke Association International Stroke Conference, silent heart attacks increase stroke risk in adults 65 and older. Alexander E. Merkler, MD, Assistant Professor of Neurology, Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City, says, “We found having a silent heart attack increases stroke risk, suggesting silent heart attacks may need to be recognized as a new risk factor for stroke.” Merkler and colleagues analyzed health information on more than 4,200 adults 65 years old or older at the start of the study and had annual check-ups from 1989-1999 at multiple centers across the U.S. Researchers evaluated participants’ stroke risk for an average of 10 years. Participants who had evidence of a silent heart attack had a 47 percent increased risk of developing a stroke, compared to adults who did not have a silent heart attack. “Our research suggests a silent heart attack may be capable of causing clots in the heart that dislodge and travel to the brain causing a stroke,” Merkler said. Ongoing research will help understand how best to treat patients with silent heart attacks to prevent stroke.
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