Mild Heart Attack Symptoms (Silent Heart Attack) Early Warnings
A heart attack occurs when the blood flowing in the arteries of the heart become occluded. This can happen because of plaque or a blood clot. When the heart cells do not get enough oxygen, the cells start to die. Heart attacks can be mild or major. Mild heart attack symptoms do not correlate with damage.
Every 40 seconds a person has a heart attack in America. More than 800,000 Americans have a heart attack per year. Coronary artery disease is the main cause of heart attacks.
People at risk for heart attacks are people who:
- People who are overweight
- People who do exercise
- People with high cholesterol
- People with a genetic tendency
- People who have high blood pressure
Unfortunately, you cannot go by your symptoms on whether the heart attack is a mild heart attack or a major heart attack. A patient will sometime present to the emergency room with signs of a major heart attack. After further testing, it is determined that the patient did not have a major heart attack. Sometimes it is gallbladder problems or acid reflux.
Other times a patient will come into the hospital with “mild” chest pin and testing will show the person has had a major heart attack. Some people will have what we call a “silent heart attack”. This is where people will have very mild symptoms of a heart attack or no symptoms at all.
As a nurse, I have also seen patients presenting with mild heart attack symptoms, and they indeed had a mild heart attack. Whenever someone has any symptoms of a heart attack, it is best to get emergency help or call 911. Many times people go into the emergency department complaining of stomach pain, shoulder pain, left arm pain, and stomach ache. These symptoms are also signs of a mild heart attack or major heart attack.
For whatever reason, some people tend to be in denial about chest pain. Many people will say it is indigestion and take tons of acid blockers. The lesson to learn is when in doubt, seek treatment.
Mini Heart Attack Treatments
Certain treatments usually are started right away if a heart attack is suspected, even before the diagnosis is confirmed. These include:
- Aspirin to prevent further clots.
- Nitroglycerin sublingual is given to reduce the heart’s workload.
- Oxygen is administered to give the heart muscle more oxygen.
- Thrombolytic medicines, also called clot busters, are used to dissolve blood clots that are blocking the coronary arteries. To work best, these medicines must be given within several hours of the start of heart attack symptoms.
- Percutaneous coronary intervention is a nonsurgical procedure that opens blocked or narrowed coronary arteries
- Your doctor may prescribe one or more of the following medicines.
- ACE inhibitors. ACE inhibitors lower blood pressure and reduce strain on your heart. They also help slow down further weakening of the heart muscle.
- Anticlotting medicines. Anticlotting medicines stop platelets from clumping together and forming unwanted blood clots. Examples of anticlotting medicines include aspirin and clopidogrel.
- Anticoagulants. Anticoagulants, or blood thinners, prevent blood clots from forming in your arteries. These medicines also keep existing clots from getting larger.
- Beta blockers. Beta blockers decrease your heart’s workload. These medicines also are used to relieve chest pain and discomfort and to help prevent another heart attack. Beta blockers also are used to treat arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats).
- Statin medicines. Statins control or lower your blood cholesterol. By lowering your blood cholesterol level, you can decrease your chance of having another heart attack or stroke.
- Magnesium deficiency is a known cause of heart disease.
In a recent study called the EMMACE study, 20% of patients were confirmed to have had a heart attack, and they presented without pain. This situation delays treatment and diagnosis. The patients who presented without chest pain were often older and female. Some heart failure patients also did not have any pain. Ironically, the people who presented without chest pain had more severe left ventricle impairment than people who presented with chest pain. Patients presenting without pain were 60% more likely to die than people who presented with pain.