Silent Heart Attack Signs | Health Channel
You may have heard of the term “silent heart attack”, but do you know what it means? In an interview with the Health Channel, Dr. Jonathan Fialkow, Chief Population Health Officer with Baptist Health South Florida, defines what a silent heart attack is and what its symptoms are.
Dr. Fialkow explains that, essentially, silent heart attacks are when someone has a heart attack without noticing it. So, you might walk into your doctor’s office for your routine physical and they do an evaluation, including an electrocardiogram, and find out you have had a heart attack in the past without realizing. Electrocardiograms are good tools to find out if someone is actively having a heart attack or for identifying signs of previous heart attacks. A lot of times doctors will find that their patients will have signs of having had a heart attack, but the patient does not remember having any symptoms of one or did not identify their symptoms as being a heart attack. So, how does this happen?
Dr. Fialkow says that most people associate heart attacks with the stereotypical symptoms of chest pain and shooting pain down the left arm, but that is not always the case. There are also what are called atypical symptoms, like sweating, shortness of breath, or back pain. Though, not everyone knows what the atypical symptoms are, so they do not identify them as heart attack symptoms or the symptoms feel so mild, people do not identify them as an issue. “People’s bodies are different, the way that they respond to pain is different, so we can’t really define why some people feel pain and others don’t,” Dr. Fialkow says. The size of the heart attack affects the symptoms too. Some people may experience a lot of heart damage that produces worse symptoms and others may experience minimal damage which, obviously, creates less symptoms. Though Dr. Fialkow admits, the most common problem he sees is that people often misattribute their symptoms.
If a silent heart attack does not cause that much damage and the symptoms are negligible, then what is the worry? Well, Dr. Fialkow warns that a heart attack of any magnitude is cause for concern because people who are most at risk for heart attacks are people who have already had them. “So if someone’s found to have had a silent heart attack, the evaluation is not so much, ‘how do we get you through that?’ You already lived. It’s ‘is there anything else going on that could lead to a bigger heart attack and be more life threatening,” he explains. People’s bodies may react differently to heart attacks but that does not mean they are free of risk from future, more serious heart attacks.
To watch the full segment of Dr. Jonathan Fialkow describing the nuances of heart attack symptoms, visit: https://youtu.be/85BZK3OsZeo