Dr Oz: What Are Silent Heart Attacks? + How To Spot The Signs

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Dr Oz: Silent Heart Attacks

Dr Oz shared that almost one third of heart attacks go undetected by both you and your doctor. They’re called silent heart attacks and Dr Oz explained how they happened. He showed that if a blockage occurs, a blood vessel in the heart can become closed, keeping blood from getting to the tissue. Normally, if you’re having a heart attack, you get a bruise on your heart, resulting in chest pain and sometimes even arm and neck pain. But what if you have no symptoms at all?

Dr Oz: What Are Silent Heart Attacks? + How To Spot The Signs

A silent heart attack is just what it sounds like, but Dr Oz explained that there are ways you can detect one. (Gang Liu / Shutterstock.com)

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Dr Oz said that although they’re “silent,” you may feel subtle things, so you just have to know what to look for. He introduced Sherry, who he said is a classic example of a silent heart attack. She shared that she was 41 years old and knew all the classic heart attack symptoms, even those specific to women. She never experienced those symptoms but remembered that for a couple weeks she wasn’t feeling all that well and was feeling run down.

Dr Oz: Heart Attack With No Symptoms?

Because it was winter, she thought she had the flu or pneumonia. Finally she called her doctor because she realized that things were getting worse. They took her blood pressure, ran tests, did chest x-rays, and treated her for the common cold. She continued to get worse until finally her doctor ran a test and found that she had suffered a silent heart attack. By the time she got to the hospital, it was found that she had 100% blockage.

Sherry told Dr Oz that she thought she was going to die. She said she didn’t experience chest pain, cold sweats, or any of the other classic symptoms. Dr Oz said the classic signs of a heart attack are actually a blessing in disguise because they tell you you’re having a problem.

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Dr Oz: Signs Of Silent Heart Attack

Dr Oz then explained that after suffering a silent heart attack, you may experience subtle signs like fatigue, dizziness, light-headedness, and flu-like symptoms. The symptoms will gradually worsen as well. Dr Oz said that if there’s a blocked blood vessel that causes a bruise on the heart and you ignore it, another bruise can form when another blood vessel closes off. It will continue to get worse and worse until the entire heart dies.

Dr Oz: Silent Heart Attack Risk Factor

Dr Oz shared that there’s one risk factor that could make you more susceptible to a silent heart attack than any other. Dr Sonia Tolani explained that it happens more commonly than you may think and often times isn’t picked up until it’s on an EKG. She said more often than not, people feel unwell and don’t know what it is, so it’s easy to get misdiagnosed.

Risk factors for heart disease include high blood pressure, high cholesterol, being overweight, a family history of heart disease, and smoking. Those risk factors are the same for a silent heart attack, but those who suffer silent heart attacks more commonly have diabetes as well.

She said diabetes patients have poor circulation and high blood sugar, which damages the nerves. Diabetics don’t feel the same things that other people feel, which is why they could have a heart attack with no symptoms. Dr Tolani said as the heart muscle gets deprived of oxygen, more damage can occur. The damage can cause swelling and inflammation, so you may notice swelling in your legs or that your pants are too tight. You may also have difficulty breathing.

Dr Oz: Listen To Your Body

She said a lot of people can look back and pinpoint a specific moment where they thought they had really bad indigestion or a shoulder sprain, which was actually when they had the heart attack. Sherry said she woke up in the middle of the night one night with a feeling of severe indigestion but ignored it and went right back to sleep.

Dr Oz said women too often ignore signs that something important could be happening. Dr Tolani said women tend to have more atypical symptoms, rather than having classic chest pain. She said that’s why it’s so important for women to listen to their bodies, because we know when something’s wrong. She said take the time to put yourself first and go see your doctor, because silent heart attacks are just as deadly as regular heart attacks.

Dr Oz said they’re more like “whispering heart attacks” than they are silent, because you can detect them if you know what to look for.

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