¿Qué es un ataque al corazón silencioso?

Una mujer tiene una cita virtual con un médico por teléfono

A silent heart attack, also called a silent Ischemia, is a heart attack that has either no symptoms, minimal symptoms or unrecognized symptoms. A heart attack is not always as obvious as pain in your chest, shortness of breath and cold sweats. In fact, a heart attack can actually happen without a person knowing it.

Hard to Recognize Symptoms of a Silent Heart Attack

“Just like the name implies, a silent heart attack is a heart attack that has either:

  • no symptoms,
  • minimal symptoms or
  • unrecognized symptoms,” says Deborah Ekery, M.D., a clinical cardiologist at Heart Hospital of Austin and with Austin Heart in Austin, TX.

“But it is like any other heart attack where blood flow to a section of the heart is temporarily blocked and can cause scarring and damage to the heart muscle.”

Ekery normalmente recibe a pacientes que llegan quejándose del cansancio y problemas relacionados con la cardiopatía, y descubre, a través de una RM o EKG, que la persona había sufrido un ataque al corazón hace semanas o meses sin darse cuenta.

“People who have these so-called silent heart attacks are more likely to have non-specific and subtle symptoms, such as:

  • indigestion or
  • a case of the flu, or
  • they may think that they strained a muscle in their chest or their upper back.
  • It also may not be discomfort in the chest, it may be in the jaw or the upper back or arms,” she says.

“Some folks have prolonged and excessive fatigue that is unexplained. Those are some of the less specific symptoms for a heart attack, but ones that people may ignore or attribute to something else.”

Causes of a Silent Heart Attack in Women

A silent heart attack happens when the flow of blood is blocked in the coronary arteries by a build up of plaque. Studies differ, but some suggest that silent heart attacks are more common in women than in men.

Ekery points out that women and their physicians may also be more likely to chalk up symptoms of a silent heart attack to anxiety and dismiss them.

Risk Factors for a Silent Heart Attack in Women

Still, Ekery says, the risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for a recognized heart attack, and:

Un ataque al corazón silencioso puede ser tan peligroso como su homólogo más evidente, afirma Ekery. Debido a que el episodio a menudo deja cicatrices y daños en el corazón, sitúa a la persona en una situación de mayor riesgo de sufrir otros problemas cardíacos. Y como la persona no solicitó tratamiento, puede que el flujo sanguíneo al corazón no se haya restaurado desde el principio; además, como tampoco se administraron medicamentos, el efecto podría ser mayor.

Qué hacer durante un ataque al corazón silencioso.

Lo “silencioso” en un ataque al corazón silencioso es la parte complicada; a menudo, las mujeres no se dan cuenta de que están sufriendo una emergencia médica. Si observa síntomas de un ataque al corazón silencioso, trate de mantener la calma y llame de inmediato al 911. Al llegar al hospital, deje claro que cree que puede estar teniendo un ataque al corazón y no un ataque de ansiedad. Abogue por sí misma o, si puede, lleve a alguien que abogue por usted.

Cómo evitar un ataque al corazón silencioso.

Ekery advises her patients to:

  • know their risk factors,
  • be aware of their blood pressure and cholesterol,
  • exercise regularly and
  • avoid smoking to decrease their risk of a heart attack.
  • Above all, she cautions them to listen to their bodies, and if something isn’t right, talk to a doctor.

“Las personas conocen sus propios cuerpos y si algo les parece poco habitual, deberían hacerse análisis”, dice, “sobre todo si tienen alguno de los riesgos mencionados”.