Minor Heart Attacks: How to Recognize Silent Symptoms
A subgroup of individuals who experience a heart attack may do so without knowing. Some 20 to 30 percent of all heart attack survivors have minor, or silent, heart attacks. These heart attacks go unnoticed by survivors and often misdiagnosed by medical professionals.
Symptoms of minor/silent heart attacks include discomfort in the neck, jaw, throat or an extremity, or shortness of breath coupled with fatigue. Two or more of these symptoms often occur simultaneously, manifesting as an ailment that feels like intense heartburn that occasionally persists for hours or days.
How Minor Heart Attacks Differ from Major Heart Attacks
Major heart attacks are the stuff of drama, film and television. Actors clutch their left arms and grimace in agony before dropping to one knee. Heart attacks often precipitate an intense tightness or squeezing felt most keenly in the center of the chest.
In both minor and major heart attacks symptoms like fatigue and shortness of breath may persist for months after the event. The telltale signs of a past heart attack remain visible within the heart long after the attack.
Heart Attack Symptoms In Women
Both men and women experience the most common heart attack symptom: Chest pain, especially in the center of the chest. Women are much more likely than men to also experience shortness of breath, pain in the back or the jaw, and nausea and/or vomiting.
A small subset of women may not experience chest pain at all during a heart attack. Symptoms of minor heart attacks in women often resemble those of the flu or acid reflux. As a result, women and their doctors are in danger of misdiagnosing.
Heart Disease is still the top killer of women in the United States, so it’s essential to know the facts, the related statistics and prevent the fatal mistake of misdiagnoses.
What Exactly Happens During a Heart Attack?
The heart and the entire body receive oxygenated blood via a series of arteries. The right and left coronary arteries specifically service the heart, supplying blood and oxygen to its muscles. Sometimes fatty deposits called plaque buildup and rupture within these arteries. Thrombosis, or blood clotting, occurs as a result.
Thrombosis severely affects the heart’s ability to supply its muscles with oxygen and blood. Denied oxygen and blood, muscle tissue within the heart begins to die. Once the artery experiences complete blockage, all the heart muscle tissue it serves dies. The heart attack is the outcome of thrombosis and any resulting dead heart muscle tissue that ceases to function properly.
How Do Doctors Detect Past Heart Attacks?
In theory, doctors can detect past heart attacks weeks or months after they occur. EKG or a cardiac ultrasound can reveal the size of the heart attack by the amount of damage to heart muscle tissue. Doctors can also gauge the degree of plaque buildup in arteries through certain blood tests.
Effective care, prevention and ongoing proactive responses to a heart attack depend upon proper diagnosis. Misdiagnoses can result in further discomfort, a deterioration in health or even death. Misdiagnoses or improper care are often the result of negligence.
Such scenarios can benefit from the input of a medical malpractice attorney. An attorney who specializes in medical malpractice can determine if negligence is to blame and subsequently draw attention to individual or systemic inadequacies that result in harm to patients. This attention may raise consciousness about minor heart attacks and the dangers of ignoring or misdiagnosing them.