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Beware: The Silent Heart Attack

SilentHeartAttackJacquie Eubanks RN BSN



Scary as this may sound, people can have an unrecognized heart attack that can damage and even scar the heart muscle when not treated straightaway. While a person might sense that they are “just not feeling right” or that something actually feels wrong, symptoms of a silent heart attack can be subtle or passed off as a less health threatening condition. Yet, while the majority of heart attacks have obvious symptoms of chest pain, shortness of breath and cold sweats, the silent heart attack, often referred to as the “silent killer,” can have minimal or atypical symptoms that are not recognized as life threatening. Less specific symptoms, such as prolonged fatigue, indigestion or some muscle discomfort in the chest, jaw, back or upper arms, may often be ignored or rationalized away as anxiety, heartburn or a pulled muscle.

While cardiovascular disease remains the number one cause of death for both men and women, it is women who are more likely to be affected and the heart attacks are generally more severe. Many women may still think of cardiovascular disease as a men’s health issue, but over 50% of women who have a cardiac event are likely to die. In the time leading up to the heart attack, women at risk often experience different warning signs, such as flulike symptoms or unexplained general weakness. Often non-specific symptoms are ignored or self-diagnosed and many are surprised to later find that they actually necessitated immediate medical attention. Many do not discover they have had a heart episode until weeks or months after the event. Others will continue to have persistent symptoms and may see their medical provider sooner.

As we will learn, symptoms should never be ignored, as the longer the heart goes without treatment, the more irreversible damage can occur. Medically referred to as silent ischemia and generally caused by a slow buildup of arterial plaque, coronary artery disease eventually results in a subtle loss of blood flow and decreased oxygen to the heart, causing the death of heart muscle cells and scarring of heart muscle. While the damage can range from mild to severe, delayed treatment can have deadly consequences, often resulting in permanent harm. By learning to recognize the unusual discomforts and not ignoring a sense that something isn’t right, women can limit damage from an attack or avoid one altogether. When in doubt, check in with your intuition. If the symptoms are concerning and you haven’t experienced them before, it’s worth a visit to the ER to get checked out. It’s better to feel embarrassment when it turns out you’re okay rather than risk further damage or heart failure when you are not.

Like many other age related diseases, coronary artery disease is largely preventable with a healthy lifestyle. While certain factors are not avoidable, such as aging or genetics, knowing and reducing your own controllable risk factors can pay off with a healthier heart and a longer lifespan. Lifestyle factors that support cardiac health and overall wellness include not smoking, losing weight if needed, participating in enjoyable physical activity, reducing stress, controlling blood pressure and blood sugar and proper management of diabetes. It’s extremely important to your long term survival to be aware of the signs and symptoms of silent heart disease. See your doctor if you have atypical symptoms of light headedness, an upset stomach or burning sensation in the upper abdomen, sweating, and pain or discomfort in the chest, arms, back, neck or jaw.

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Bio-Cardio 369Bio-Cardio 369 by Biotics Research – In additional to multiple vitamins and minerals, this product supplies specific nutrient synergists, such as CoQ10 and an optimal blend of essential fatty acids, known to support healthy cardiac function. Gluten free.


Ultra Cardio Pack (66354)Ultra Cardio Support Pack by Douglas Laboratories – Each individual packet contains multivitamins and minerals, EPA and DHA essential fatty acids, a proprietary blend of organic fruits and vegetables, CoQ10, botanicals and green foods in support of cardiovascular function and overall wellness. Soy free.

Mag-Potassium AspartateMag-Potassium Aspartate by ProThera – This blend contains cardio supportive electrolytes along with aspartic acid to aid in the maintenance of normal heart rhythm, blood pressure and energy production. Gluten, casein and soy free.


Cardio3 Q10 Omega 3Cardio3 Q10 Omega 3 by Bioclinic Naturals – This highly bioavailable supplement provides pharmaceutical grade EPA and DHA, CoQ10 and a high ORAC value, proprietary antioxidant berry concentrate in support of cardiovascular health, HDL cholesterol and blood pressure. Gluten and dairy free.


If You’ve Ever Said, “I Just Don’t Feel Right,” You Need To Read This About Silent Heart Attacks. http://www.prevention.com/health/silent-heart-attack
Silent Heart Attack: Symptoms, Risks. https://www.goredforwomen.org/about-heart-disease/facts_about_heart_disease_in_women-sub-category/silent-heart-attack-symptoms-risks/
Silent Ischemia and Ischemic Heart Disease. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/HeartAttack/PreventionTreatmentofHeartAttack/Silent-Ischemia-and-Ischemic-Heart-Disease_UCM_434092_Article.jsp
Beware the Silent Heart Attack. http://health.clevelandclinic.org/2014/08/beware-the-silent-heart-attack/
Women and Heart Disease. http://www.texasheart.org/HIC/Topics/HSmart/women.cfm