What Does a Mini Heart Attack Feel Like?
According to Harvard Health, in approximately 50 percent of all myocardial infarctions (i.e., heart attacks), the sufferer believes the symptoms being experienced are caused by a less serious problem, which can increase the individual’s risk of dying from coronary heart disease (CHD), aka coronary artery disease (CAD). While there are several types of heart attacks, the mini heart attack or ‘silent’ heart attack, accounts for 45 percent of those suffered.
A mini heart attack occurs when there is a temporary blockage in the coronary arteries. Just as with mini stroke symptoms, the symptoms experienced during a mini heart attack may be extremely short-lived and mild; thus, lacking the intensity typically seen with a classic heart attack. This lack of intensity and the fact that an individual may feel normal during and after a mini heart attack are two reasons it is described as ‘silent.’
Mini heart attack symptoms include:
- Chest pain, or a feeling of pressure or squeezing in the center of the chest. This discomfort may last several minutes: It may also come and go.
- Pain may be experienced in the throat. Symptoms may be confused with indigestion or gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD).
- A shortness of breath either before or while experiencing the chest pain or discomfort.
- Discomfort in the upper back, jaw, neck, upper extremities (one or both) and/or the stomach.
- Feeling lightheaded and/or nauseous.
- Breaking out into a cold sweat.
If you experience any of the symptoms listed above, seek medical assistance immediately.
Study Finds Prevalence of Unrecognized Mini Heart Attacks is Alarming
According to a study published in the Nov. 10, 2015, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), the number of individuals who unknowingly suffer silent myocardial infarctions is disturbing. The study, Prevalence and Correlates of Myocardial Scar in a US Cohort evaluated the heart-health of nearly 2,000 individuals. Participant ages ranged from 45 to 84 years and none had been diagnosed with clinical cardiovascular disease when the study began (2000-2002).
Ten years later (2010-2012), the participants were re-evaluated. At this time, researchers discovered that 8 percent of the participants had myocardial scarring, which indicates that he or she had suffered a heart attack. Surprisingly, 80 percent of those with scarring had no idea that they had a problem.
Furthermore, in this study, myocardial scarring was seen much more frequently in males than in females (five times higher). This scarring of the heart, in combination with the lack of seeking medical care at the time of the mini heart attack, increases an individual’s risk of suffering a more harmful, potentially fatal, heart attack in the future.
Preventing a Heart Attack
Although there are some risk factors that cannot be controlled, an individual can reduce his or her likelihood of suffering a heart attack with a few lifestyle changes.
Lifestyle changes to improve heart health include:
- Regular exercise.
- Maintaining a healthy weight.
- Monitoring low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol levels and changing diet accordingly.
- Discontinuing the use of tobacco products.
- Consuming plenty of leafy green vegetables, while monitoring sodium, sugar and saturated fat intake.
- Eating a variety of other heart-healthy foods throughout the week (e.g., whole grains, walnuts, fatty fish, etc.).
- Implementing stress-management techniques (e.g., yoga, meditation, etc.).
If you have already suffered a heart attack, or you are concerned that you are at risk for having one, contact Tri-City Cardiology today at 480-835-6100or, if you prefer, just click here to use our online contact form. We will evaluate your risks, schedule a health screening to identify any existing blockages and, if necessary, begin treatment to prevent a cardiac event. Let our experienced board-certified cardiologists evaluate your heart, address any cardiac issues you have to put your mind at ease.