Silent Heart Attacks: What Your Apopka ER Director Wants You to Know

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Many heart attack symptoms are well-known, like chest pressure and pain, shortness of breath, sweating, and discomfort in the arm, neck and shoulders. When you feel these symptoms, or spot them in a loved one, call 911 and get help immediately at your AdventHealth Apopka emergency department.

However, not all symptoms of a heart attack are obvious. Silent heart attacks, or heart attacks you have without realizing it, are more common than you might think. “We know that a lot of people who have heart attacks have symptoms that are incredibly subtle,” says AdventHealth  Apopka  emergency department  Medical Director Miles Bennett, DO, FACEP.

“But a heart attack is a heart attack, no matter how subtle,” he says. “A silent heart attack is just as much of an emergency as one you can easily identify. When something doesn’t feel right, getting care fast can be lifesaving.”

With this knowledge in mind, we want you to be aware of the subtle signs of a heart attack so you can be empowered to get help fast. You could save your life, or that of a loved one, if you know when to act quickly to get immediate care from experts like Dr. Bennett at your Apopka ER.

Know the Signs: Silent Heart Attacks Still Have Symptoms

Some heart attacks that aren’t immediately recognizable are dubbed as silent. But Dr. Bennett says that every heart attack has symptoms, even if they seem minor.

“A heart attack doesn’t always mean gripping your chest in pain, like you might see in movies or television shows,” he explains. “Some heart attacks are said to be silent because the symptoms are subtle, or they involve symptoms that most people don’t associate with heart attacks.”

Dr. Bennett explains that symptoms of a silent heart attack can include: 

  • Back or jaw pain 

  • Cold, clammy skin

  • Confusion

  • Dizziness or lightheadedness

  • Fatigue

  • Heartburn

  • Indigestion

  • Nausea

Alone, each of these symptoms may seem minor. “It’s easy to overlook these symptoms or assume that they’re related to something else and not a heart attack,” Dr. Bennett says, “but when something doesn’t feel right, don’t write it off.”

Don’t dismiss the signs of a silent heart attack — especially if you experience several symptoms at once. “Even if you’re not sure if you’re having a silent heart attack, go with your gut and get help. It’s worth it to come to our ER, where we can either treat or rule out a heart attack,” Dr. Bennett says. To stay prepared, know where your AdventHealth Apopka ER is in relation to where you live and work.

How We’re Protecting You in the Apopka ER, Right Now

For a silent heart attack, you shouldn’t delay care out of fear. And to help you feel confident, we want you to know exactly how we’ll protect you here. Dr. Bennett answers your most pressing questions about COVID-19 cases, masks and gloves and specific safety measures in "Step-by-Step Safety: What It’s Like in Your Apopka ER, Right Now". 

To address your emergency needs and protect you from COVID-19, a whole new set of precautions has become our new normal at the AdventHealth Apopka emergency department. These measures include:

  • Team members, patients and visitors are screened  at every facility:  Everyone has their temperature checked,  answers screening questions and is given a mask when they enter  the Apopka emergency departments

  • COVID-19 patients are cared for in a separate wing of our ER:  Anyone who has COVID-19 symptoms is treated in a separate part of our building, and you don’t have to worry about  sitting next to anyone in  our  waiting room  who might have coronavirus

  • Team members get continuous supplies of personal protective equipment: We’re  stocked  with supplies like fresh masks and gloves, and our team members receive new equipment each day, as many times per day as  needed 

  • Social distancing  measures are included in waiting areas:  We haven’t had any issues with crowding  in the Apopka ER,  and you’ll notice chair covers and floor markers for where to sit and stand a safe distance apart from others, along with clear protective shields at the reception desk  

  • Disinfecting all areas of our emergency department continuously:  We clean and sanitize waiting areas, exam rooms and all high-touch surfaces around the clock, for everyone’s safety 

For Silent Heart Attacks, Getting ER Care in Apopka Can Be Lifesaving

Like Dr. Bennett explains, a heart attack is a heart attack, and even minor or “silent” symptoms are best treated in the ER. It’s always best to err on the side of caution to protect your heart, and to not delay care, either. “Time is of the essence if you think you’re having a heart attack,” he says. “We need to treat a heart attack in the first few hours after it happens to give you the best outcomes.”

However, with COVID-19, Dr. Bennett understands that you might be nervous to get medical attention — even in an emergency situation like a heart attack. “It’s difficult for my team and I to know that there are people right here in our Apopka community who have heart attacks and are nervous about coming to the ER,” he says, “but with something as serious as a heart attack, the sooner you get care, the better we can restore your whole health.”

Dr. Bennett knows the importance of getting immediate care for heart attacks — and just how protected people are in his ER. “My daughter has significant health problems, so I’ve had to take extraordinary safety steps during this pandemic,” he says. “I know that if she were to have a silent heart attack, I would entrust her care to our ER. She’d receive the same level of protection and attention my team gives patients every day,” Dr. Bennett says.

“AdventHealth  has gone the extra mile to ensure the safety of our team members and our guests, and I’d have my own family come in because I know they’d be protected here.” 

When you come to your Apopka ER for a silent (or recognizable) heart attack, you can rest assured that your protection is our priority. Our caring experts can see you quickly, address your symptoms fast and treat or rule out a heart attack. Your whole health matters to us, and our team is here for you in any emergency, at any time.

But as with most cardiac conditions, prevention is key. And you can take steps every day to prevent heart attacks and boost your whole-person health, too.

Heart Attack Prevention 101

Prevention can start with vigilance about your symptoms, especially if you’ve had a heart attack previously, Dr. Bennett explains. “Talk with your primary care doctor about any symptoms that aren’t normal for you,” he says. If your physician suspects heart issues, diagnostic tests — such as an electrocardiogram (EKG), stress test and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) — could give you answers.

Knowing the symptoms of a silent heart attack and talking to your doctor about them is essential to stay vigilant about your health. But prevention is best.

“Smart prevention is one of the best ways to take care of your heart right now and prevent heart attacks in the future,” Dr. Bennett says. Along with being vigilant of concerning symptoms, prevention involves understanding your personal heart attack risk factors, or factors that make you more likely to experience a heart attack.

Understand Your Heart Attack Risk Factors

The risk factors for a heart attack are the same whether the heart attack is silent or immediately diagnosed, Dr. Bennett explains. Many factors influence your risk of a heart attack, including:

  • Age

  • Family history of heart disease

  • High blood pressure and cholesterol 

  • Level of physical activity

  • Use of tobacco products

  • Weight

While you can’t change your age or family history, “the first thing you should notice about this list is that most of these risk factors are within your control,” Dr. Bennett says. Working with your primary care doctor or cardiologist in Apopka to assess your current heart health is a great place to start. Your physician can offer screenings to help identify your risk factors for heart disease, including:

  • Ankle-brachial index test

  • Blood glucose testing

  • Blood pressure monitoring

  • Body mass index (BMI) measurements

  • Fasting lipoprotein profile (cholesterol)

  • Postmenopausal screenings

Once you have a clear picture of your heart health, your doctor can help you create a plan to reduce your risk of a heart attack, often through healthy lifestyle changes.

Take Charge of Your Health With Lifestyle Changes

“A heart attack is a wakeup call, for a lot of people. It’s an opportunity to make meaningful and long-lasting changes for your whole health,” Dr. Bennett says. As your first steps, be sure you:

  • Know the signs of heart attacks, silent and otherwise

  • Know where your Apopka ER is, in case you need to get care fast

  • Understand your heart attack risk factors

If you’ve had a heart attack in the past, or are ready to prevent them, work with your doctor to create a plan that promotes your whole health. Your plan may include:

  • Exercising more often

  • Improving your diet

  • Maintaining a healthy weight

  • Quitting smoking

  • Regular blood pressure checks

  • Techniques to manage stress better

Following a healthier lifestyle can help you greatly reduce your risk of having a heart attack. However, if the unexpected occurs, it’s important to be able to recognize heart attack symptoms and ready to get medical care immediately.

“In a heart attack emergency, you and your family will be in good hands at AdventHealth Apopka,” Dr. Bennett says. “You can expect compassionate and competent care from the experts on my team, each of whom is dedicated to your protection.”

For a Silent Heart Attack, Don’t Delay Getting ER Care in Apopka

When you feel concerning symptoms — even if you’re unsure if they’re from a heart attack — it’s best to get care quickly. Don’t disregard even subtle symptoms that may point to a heart condition or could actually be a silent heart attack in progress. Trust your gut, stop what you’re doing and call 911 to get care immediately at your AdventHealth Apopka emergency department.

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