Could You Have a Heart Attack & Not Know it?

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This article has been authored by Dr. Manoj Luthra, who is a spine surgeon at Jaypee Hospital Noida. Dr. Luthra is heading the Cardiac Surgery Department at Jaypee Hospital, Noida. Dr. Luthra is adept in performing a wide range of cardiac surgeries (adult & paediatric). He has been credited with the first cardiac transplantation in the Indian Armed Forces. He has done over 12000 cases in his cardiac surgical career span of more than 25 years. The cases done by him include 8000 bypass surgeries, 3 cardiac transplantation and numerous aneurysm surgeries. In addition to coronary artery and valvular heart corrections, he has also done complex congenital neonatal surgeries.
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Could You Have a Heart Attack & Not Know it?

Here’s a surprising fact: Nearly half of people who have a heart attack don’t realize it at the time. These so-called silent heart attacks are only diagnosed after the event, when a recording of the heart’s electrical activity (an electrocardiogram or ECG) or another test reveals evidence of damage to the heart.

One explanation for this phenomenon may be a higher-than-average tolerance for pain. Some people mistake their symptoms as indigestion or muscle pain, while others may feel pain, but in parts of their upper body other than the center of the chest.

Different sensations?
Many people don’t realize that during a heart attack, the classic symptom of chest pain happens only about half of the time. People sometimes describe heart attack symptoms as chest discomfort or pressure, while others say they feel an intense, crushing sensation or a deep ache similar to a toothache.

Certain people are less sensitive to pain than others, or they may deny their pain and “tough it out” because they don’t want to appear to be weak. Not everyone has a good sense of their own pain tolerance, however, a host of other factors (such as your emotional state) can affect pain perception. Of note: people with diabetes may be less sensitive to pain because the disease can deaden nerves (a condition known as diabetic neuropathy), theoretically raising their risk for a silent heart attack.

Where it may hurt
During a heart attack, the location of the pain can also vary quite a bit from person to person. It may occur in the arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, or elsewhere in the upper half of the body. Other non-classic symptoms people often don’t attribute to a heart attack include nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

There’s no question that women are more likely to experience non-classic heart attack symptoms, but it’s important to remember that men can have those symptoms, too.

Heart attack symptoms
Although the most common sign of a heart attack in both men and women is the classic one — discomfort in the center of the chest that spreads through the upper body — this symptom doesn’t always occur. Some people experience non-classic symptoms, and these may be slightly more frequent in women and in older people.

Classic symptoms

  • Pressure, aching, or tightness in the center of the chest
  • Pain or discomfort that radiates to the upper body, especially shoulders or neck and arms sweating

Non-classic symptoms

  • Shortness of breath
  • Weakness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Back or jaw pain
  • Unexplained fatigue

Reduce your risk of heart attack

Don’t smoke
One of the best ways to protect yourself against a heart attack is by not smoking. The benefits of quitting show up after only a few months.

Maintain a healthy weight
Being overweight increases your risk of high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, cardiovascular disease and diabetes – risk factor of heart attack

Limit fats and cholesterol
Choose fat-free or low-fat dairy products. Limit saturated fats and avoid trans fats. Instead of butter, margarine and shortening, use monounsaturated oils (olive, canola and peanut) and polyunsaturated oils (corn, safflower, sesame, sunflower and soy).

Eat fish that has omega-3s
Eat fish that has omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon and trout.

Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables
Eat at least three servings of fruits and at least four servings of vegetables daily.

TIPS
“If you exercise regularly, you may lower your risk of a heart attack and stroke. If you are middle-aged or older and haven’t been exercising regularly or have a chronic health problem, work with your doctor to develop an exercise program. To condition your heart safely Start at a comfortable level of exertion and schedule regular exercise.”

About author

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Dr. Manoj Luthra

Dr. Luthra is heading the Cardiac Surgery Department at Jaypee Hospital, Noida. Dr. Luthra is adept in performing a wide range of cardiac surgeries (adult & paediatric). He has been credited with the first cardiac transplantation in the Indian Armed Forces. He has done over 12000 cases in his cardiac surgical career span of more than 25 years. The cases done by him include 8000 bypass surgeries, 3 cardiac transplantation and numerous aneurysm surgeries. In addition to coronary artery and valvular heart corrections, he has also done complex congenital neonatal surgeries. To know more: http://www.jaypeehealthcare.com/doctor/manoj-luthra/

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