Silent Heart Attacks May Go Undiagnosed
Although the symptoms of heart attacks are widely known, many seniors may suffer undiagnosed heart attacks that can be just as serious and even fatal.
The study used cardiac MRI to analyze 936 people, aged 67 to 93, in Iceland. The group is part of the Age Gene/Environment Susceptibility-Reykjavik Study (AGES). The research was conducted by experts at the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI); the National Institute on Aging (NIA); and the Icelandic Heart Association.
Cardiac MRI tests showed that more participants had silent heart attacks rather than diagnosed heart attacks. Twenty-one percent of the diabetics among the group had silent heart attacks, as opposed to 14 percent who didn’t have diabetes. Among people who did not have diabetes, 11 percent had unrecognized heart attacks, while 9 percent had diagnosed heart attacks.
The researchers said that an ECG (electrocardiogram) test was far less likely to recognize an undiagnosed heart attack.
The study also found that the people who suffered silent heart attacks had risk factors, including high blood pressure and atherosclerosis. But only 36 percent of those who had silent heart attacks were taking medicine, including statins and aspirin. Among those who had diagnosed heart attacks and survived, 73 percent were taking those medications.
The report was published in the “Journal of the American Medical Association.”