A silent heart attack occurs without any evident symptoms or at least without triggering any severe symptoms that the individual could not ignore. Many believe that a heart attack is a dramatic event and most of the time, it actually is. Remember that a heart attack is the most severe form of acute coronary syndrome in which a coronary artery is abruptly blocked with a blood clot, usually due to a sudden rupture of a plaque.
When it comes to a heart attack, the obstruction is severe enough to trigger death of a region of the heart muscles and converted into scar tissue. Many individuals who are having a heart attack are aware that there is something wrong. In most cases, there is intense chest pain or some form of chest discomfort.
As for a silent heart attack, the coronary artery is blocked by a blood clot and some of the heart muscles die but the individual is not aware that something is happening.
Why a silent heart attack occurs?
There are various reasons why some individuals have a silent heart attack without any evident symptoms such as the following:
- Some have high pain thresholds or tolerance for pain and do not notice the symptoms
- Certain medical conditions such as diabetes that affects the nerve transmitting the pain signals
- In some individuals, cardiac ischemia does not trigger chest pain or other “typical” symptoms of angina. In such cases, they experience shortness of breath or momentary weakness and other non-specific symptoms that many do not link to their heart.
- Some who have non-dramatic symptoms simply ignore the indications of a heart attack
Diagnosing a silent heart attack
Since a silent heart attack does not trigger symptoms that urges the individual to seek medical care, a diagnosis is only made after damage has already occurred. In most cases, the doctor is able to detect the damage to the heart due to a heart attack by assessing via an ECG. A diagnosis is confirmed by performing an echocardiogram which visualizes the weakened heart muscle.
What does it mean if I have a silent heart attack?
If an individual has a silent heart attack, there are 2 vital facts known. Initially, the individual has significant CAD and second, the symptoms could not be relied on as a measure of the severity of the CAD or how adequately it is being managed. The absence of the symptoms is not a dependable indictor that treatment is effective or that CAD is stable.