Can You Have a Heart Attack Without Knowing It?

June 25,2019

Often referred to as a silent heart attack, a lack of oxygen to the heart muscle may or may not be accompanied by symptoms of a heart attack. So, yes a heart attack can occur without you knowing it. Like the name implies, either a silent heart attack has no symptoms or the symptoms are so minimal that the event goes somewhat unnoticed. Doctors often examine patients with complaints of fatigue, shortness of breath, chest or arm pain, and cold sweats only to find that an EKG or MRI confirmed a heart attack had happened weeks or months earlier.

Silent or not, problems can occur following any heart attack, whether the symptoms were very subtle or completely unrecognizable, such as a supposed case of indigestion. Some of these less specific symptoms are ignored by the person having an attack or are attributed to another cause. However, like all heart attacks, a silent attack can cause scarring, damage to the heart muscle and temporary blockage of blood flow. Unfortunately, the "silent" part of the heart attack is the complicating factor, especially for women who may not realize they are experiencing an emergency.

Some important things that you can do to protect your heart are to adopt healthier lifestyles. Living smoke free is one of the best things anyone can do for good heart health. Managing your blood cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar levels will protect against imbalances that are known causes of chronic disease. Staying physically active is great for your heart. Moreover, it is never too late to start enjoying the health benefits of exercising more often. It will help you lose weight and maintain a healthy BMI. As it has been said, you are what you eat, so replace added sugars, starches, saturated fats, and salts with healthier options.

It is important for you to stay on top of your health and well-being. If ignored, physical signs of deteriorating health can leave you managing a chronic health conditions or other complex diseases with multiple conditions. Anytime you experience any of the symptoms mentioned or suffer from depression for more than a few weeks, it is time to talk to a doctor as these greatly increase your risk of a heart attack. The board certified physicians at all three (3) PrimeMED locations in Jacksonville, Orange Park and St. Augustine can provide a thorough exam and will collaborate closely with you and your family, to ensure you stay on the best path to health and wellness at any age.