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Mini Heart Attack Symptoms: How Dangerous Could It Be

  • timeline Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri
  • 3 Min Read
  • Fact Checked

Heart attacks are the leading cause of death across the globe. They can be frightening and can be debilitating. If one can diagnose a heart-attack early, mortality can be reduced significantly. Most of the time, the problem is people do not think it is a heart attack and tend to ignore the symptoms. Did you know there was such a thing as a mini-heart attack? Read on to understand mini heart attack symptoms, what a mini heart attack feels like and how you cope with it. 

What is a Mini Heart-attack?

The heart, like any other organ, has and needs blood supply. When this supply is cut off partially or completely, heart cells die leading to heart attack. This is medically known as Myocardial Infarction. The most common reason for decreased blood supply is fat built up inside the vessels which ends up blocking the vessel. This can happen in any vessel. If it is in a main artery, the damage is enormous. But when it happens in branches, it can affect a relatively small portion of the heart muscle and not cause too much of a permanent damage. This is called silent heart attack (MI) or Mini heart-attack. The symptoms are mild and are commonly ignored or mistaken as a muscle spasm. Patients remember it as an episode of indigestion or strained muscle.

Mini Heart Attack symptoms

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(1) Mild chest pain with or without radiation to the left arm,
(2) Shortness of breath but not as severe as in a severe heart attack
(3) Pain in the throat/mild burning sensation often confused as indigestion
(4) Feeling lightheaded or nauseous.
(5) Discomfort in the stomach or extremities (one sided or two sided)

If you experience any of these symptoms, consult with a doctor immediately.  The changes in mini heart attack can be missed in ECG and one might need to get ECHO and other advanced tests to asses the amount of damage.

Watch the video by interventional cardiologist Dr. Girish B Navasundi below to understand the symptoms of a heart attack.

How dangerous can Mini Heart Attacks be?

When someone is aware of the symptoms, one can approach a hospital or a clinic and this will help in avoiding major complications which sometimes can be lifesaving. But with a Mini heart attack, Symptoms are mild or absent in few individuals making it difficult to diagnose and therefore further complicating the case. Many people have a misconception that mini heart attacks are not serious. But heart attacks are dangerous whether it is a mild one or a massive one. Mini heart attacks are a warning that something is not right. They are like a wake up call to get serious.  Even if the area involved is small, there is risk for subsequent/second heart attacks which can be in a main vessel. With the small area of heart affected, the vital organ can have permanent damage in the form of heart failure or arrhythmias.

How to prevent heart attacks – Mini or Massive?

The most common cause of Heart attacks is abnormal fat deposition in the arteries. Simple lifestyle and diet changes can help reduce the risk to some extent.

(1) Regular exercise: moderate intensity exercise of 30 min a day for at least 5 times a week. This helps in burning the stored fat.
Avoid trans fats and saturated fats: These are abundant in junk foods and fried foods. These are converted into bad cholesterol and help in formation of atherosclerotic plaque.
(3) Consume green leafy vegetables and fruits: Abundant antioxidants help in protecting the heart
(4) Avoid smoking and excessive alcohol consumption: They increase the risk of atherosclerosis and cause vessel constriction
(5) Stress management: Yoga or meditation can help in reducing stress and lower the burden on the heart.

Being aware of the symptoms of mini heart attacks is important and if one is not sure about the signs, it is better to get in touch with a physician immediately. Regular health checks, cardiac screening, keeping BP and cholesterol in control can help in preventing heart attacks. It is crucial to understand how we live and manage risk factors going forward will affect what happens to us next.

  • timeline
  • Written by

    Dr. Sreelekha Daruvuri

Primary Care Physician

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