Skye likes writing about mental health, nutrition, and wellness. She is passionate about sharing information that will educate, and positively affect people's lives.
Po-Chang Hsu, M.D.
Dr. Hsu received his medical degree from Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts, and holds a Master’s of Science degree from both Harvard University and Tufts University. Outside of the medical profession, Dr. Hsu loves to write, learn new languages, and travel.
June 22, 2021
A mini heart attack, which can also be known as a silent heart attack or ischemia, is a heart attack that occurs with minimal, unrecognized symptoms or no symptoms at all. Blood flow to the heart is temporarily blocked or decreased. The damage caused by a mini heart attack is less than that of a regular heart attack but is still dangerous.
Because symptoms can be minimal or more temporary, the only way to know for sure if you’ve had a mini heart attack is to visit a cardiologist, who can run tests on the heart to look for damage. Many people have had a mini heart attack and don’t know it until weeks or months later when they visit their doctor complaining of heart symptoms or fatigue.
There are several types of heart attack, and mini heart attacks account for 45 percent of those suffered. This is a serious problem, as those who have suffered mini heart attacks can walk around without treatment or knowledge of damage caused to the heart muscle. This increases the likelihood of an affected individual’s risk of dying of coronary heart disease (CHD) or coronary artery disease (CAD).
It is best practice to know how to recognize mini heart attack symptoms, so you can see your doctor and begin treatment right away.
Mini heart attack symptoms can present as typical heart attack symptoms, but often they are more transient or less severe. Here are some mini heart attack symptoms to look out for:
Sometimes symptoms can be even less specific and more subtle, like feeling like you have the flu or thinking you have a strained muscle in your chest or upper back. This is the danger, as it is common for people to write off or ignore these feelings.
While mini heart attack symptoms may be transient or not as severe as a classic attack, be on the lookout for these signs. If you experience any of the above symptoms, be cautious and treat it as a potential heart attack. Stay calm and call emergency services.
While a mini heart attack causes less damage than a traditional heart attack, the damage it does cause can weaken the heart and make a person more subject to further heart attacks or stroke.
A cohort study published in 2015 showed an alarming number of individuals who suffered from silent myocardial infarctions unknowingly. Over ten years, eight percent of the study participants showed scarring indicative of a heart attack, and eighty percent of these same participants did not know about any problems.
Men especially showed instances of myocardial scarring, at rates five times higher than those found in females. This may indicate a tendency to write off or ignore mild heart attack symptoms.
Study results are mixed, but many seem to suggest that silent heart attacks are more common in women than men. This may be because symptoms of a heart attack in women present differently from the widely recognized series of symptoms in men. For years, the classic lists of heart attack symptoms correlated to men’s common symptoms, not women. This discrepancy may also result from heart attack symptoms in women attributed to anxiety by themselves or medical professionals.
As with a classic heart attack, the best way to prevent a mini heart attack is to know your risk factors, see a doctor regularly for checkups, contact your doctor immediately if anything feels amiss, and facilitate change through a healthy lifestyle.
Some things can increase your chance of having a mini or regular heart attack. Risk factors for suffering from a mini heart attack include the following:
You can make some lifestyle changes to reduce the risk of a heart attack. To prevent the chances of suffering a mini heart attack, do the following:
First and foremost, stay alert and aware. Most people know their own body’s quirks. If something doesn’t feel right, especially if you fall within the risk factors, make an appointment to be evaluated by a cardiologist.
If you think you may be having a heart attack, call 911. Seconds Count, a public heart health information group, advises that “every second counts when it comes to heart attack treatment. An extensive blockage, especially in a major blood vessel, such as the left anterior descending artery, can cause a large heart attack. Large heart attacks that are not treated early and aggressively can lead to heart failure.” Always err on the side of caution when it comes to your heart.
If you think you may have had a mini heart attack or want to know more about heart disease, you should consult a doctor.
Our partners at PlushCare have some of the top doctors, all of which are graduates of the top 50 U.S. medical schools. PlushCare was even named one of the top startups of 2021 by Forbes.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death in America, and if you think you may have heart problems of some kind, you should speak with a doctor immediately.
PlushCare doctors can provide heart disease treatment virtually, and you can meet with a doctor online to manage your heart condition. Online doctors offer ongoing medical care, including necessary medications and prescription refills.
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