Silent heart attacks can strike with little to no symptoms and are just as dangerous as their more traditional counterparts. #taketime4u to learn how to lower your risk through healthy lifestyle choices.
In a recently published study of heart scans in 9,500 people followed for over 20 years, 45 percent of participants with evidence of a heart attack had experienced a silent heart attack, presenting little in the way of symptoms. This represents over 4 million people in the U.S. yearly. Many don't realize they've had a heart attack until they visit their physician for a regular checkup weeks or months later. Diabetics are at increased risk of having silent heart attacks because diabetic neuropathy affects the nerve endings to the heart, reducing their symptoms.
Heart attacks occur when blood flow to the heart is reduced or blocked by cholesterol plaque or by a blood clot, resulting in damage to the organ. The resulting development of this permanent scar tissue creates more heart problems down the line, because the scarred heart muscle is not strong enough to pump blood to the body as effectively as it did before the attack.
People who experience a silent heart attack are at increased risk for a second attack, because they often do not know to seek treatment or follow preventive measures. Early diagnosis and treatment of a heart attack can limit heart damage, providing a better outlook for the future.
The best way to prevent a heart attack is to follow a heart-healthy lifestyle. The American Heart Association recommends following seven steps to improving your health, which include managing your blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar by eating a healthy diet and being physically active every day. Losing weight if you're overweight can also help defend against heart problems. If you're a smoker, kicking the habit immediately reduces your risk of having a heart attack.
Chronic stress may also take a toll on your heart. Taking time out of your day to de-stress can help lower your blood pressure and boost your immune system. If you're not the meditative type, simply going for a walk or exercising can relax your mind and benefit your body. Exercise also releases endorphins, which may improve your mood and outlook for the day.
If your concerned about your heart or overall health, talk to your physician.