Silent heart attack: Unexplained fatigue to nausea; cardiologist on top 5 signs | Health

While most of us are aware of heart attack and its classic symptoms, many times myocardial infarction can come disguised in signs we don’t recognise. Sometimes it’s unexplained fatigue that we attribute to work stress and exhaustion, other times it can show up as gastro symptoms like nausea. Almost half of the heart attack cases are ‘silent’ where chest pain, shortness of breath and dizziness are absent and people are unable to realise the urgency of the situation. Silent heart attacks can still cause damage to your heart, even though you may not realise it and can raise risk of a second and more harmful heart attack. It is important to pay attention to subtle body signals and get expert opinion, especially when you have history of heart disease or chronic diseases. (Also read | Young pilot’s death due to cardiac arrest: Experts on reasons behind poor heart health in young)

While heart attacks are commonly associated with older individuals, it is no myth that they can affect anybody of any age or gender(Unsplash)

“While heart attacks are commonly associated with older individuals, it is no myth that they can affect anybody of any age or gender. While we have been taught to identify the tell-tale signs of a heart attack, many individuals, especially of a younger age are unaware of the symptoms of silent heart attacks, which can occur at any time, and that may not manifest with the chest pain that we associate heart attacks with,” says Dr Ravinder Singh Rao, MBBS, MD, DM, FACC, Interventional Structural Cardiologist.

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Here are 5 signs and symptoms that you should watch out for if you think you are experiencing a silent heart attack:

1. Unexplained fatigue

If you find that doing activities that previously posed no challenges cause persistent and unexplained fatigue, can be a subtle sign of a silent heart attack. Having a compromised heart might direct the body’s energy resources to support it, leading to unexplained fatigue.

2. Shortness of breath

Individuals experiencing a sudden shortness of breath while not undertaking physically demanding activities should be alert to the possibility of a silent heart attack. Reduced heart function can impair the body’s ability to receive adequate oxygen, resulting in breathlessness.

3. Discomfort in the upper body

Discomfort in the upper body, including the arms, neck, jaw, or back, can be indicative of a silent heart attack. This discomfort might be mild and intermittent, making it easier to dismiss or attribute to other causes. Chest pain may not always feature in the symptoms of a silent heart attack.

4. Nausea and dizziness

Persistent nausea, sometimes accompanied by light-headedness or dizziness, could be a sign of compromised heart function. The heart’s inability to pump blood effectively can lead to a drop in blood pressure, resulting in these feelings.

5. Excessive sweating

While we do live in a hotter climate, profuse sweating that is much more than usual, and not related to the environment or physical exertion, may signal an underlying cardiovascular issue. Sweating can be the body’s response to stress on the heart, and its presence, especially in conjunction with other symptoms, warrants attention.

“While these are not only the signs and symptoms of a silent heart attack, but any of these may also indicate other underlying health conditions and should be given immediate medical attention. Prompt medical evaluation is crucial for an accurate diagnosis and timely intervention. Additionally, maintaining a heart-healthy diet and lifestyle, along with stress management, is essential for preventing cardiovascular issues in young individuals,” says Dr Rao.

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