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May 11, 2009

‘Silent’ Heart Attacks Occur More Often Than Originally Believed

Heart attack– damage to an area of heart muscle that is deprived of oxygen, usually due to blockage of a diseased coronary artery, typically accompanied by chest pain radiating down one or both arms, the severity of the attack varying with the extent and location of the damage.

A heart attack is usually associated, as the definition explains, with chest pains that may potentially lead to death however, some heart attacks occur without being detected.

Close to 200,000 Americans are estimated to suffer from ‘silent’ heart attacks each year, that’s roughly 13% of all heart attacks diagnosed annually in the United States. These ‘silent’ heart attacks, or non-Q-wave unrecognized myocardial infarctions (UMIs), are often not found due to the fact that they do not cause pain, and do not leave any signs of heart attack that can be found using an electrocardiogram (EKG).

A new study led by Han Kim at Duke University, examined 185 people, suspected of coronary disease, without history of clinical myocardial infarction. The study found that 35% of the patients had evidence of heart attack and that non-Q-wave attacks were 3 times as likely as Q-wave UMI.

This new study has shown physicians that heart attacks are occurring much more frequently than ever thought before, but what are some ways you can help avoid a heart attack?

Ways to prevent Heart attack

Follow a low-fat diet, rich in fruits and vegetables

Lower your salt intake. That means pick the salad, not the French fries.

Losing weight if you are overweight or obese. Between commercials try pumping out a few push ups, or sit ups.

Stop smoking. Smoking has horrible effects to not only your heart, but most of your body in general, so it would be a good idea to kick the habit.

Do physical activity to improve heart fitness. Instead of watching television, try going outside for a brisk walk or run. Yes, I know that many people have commitments, work, family, watching the NHL playoffs, but spending that little bit of time now may end up allowing for you to watch playoff games a few years from now. Ask your doctor how much and what kinds of physical activity are safe for you.

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