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Silent heart attack.

(24 Posts)
gillyknits Tue 30-Jan-18 10:18:41

I know that this has been discussed previously (2013} but wanted to raise the subject again. My SIL suffered a silent heart attack last Nov. It took two 999 calls and 1 hour wait for an ambulance to be sent out.
The main reason was that the dispatcher had not recognised the severity of the symptoms. SIL presented with collapse, clamminess, pain in throat., nausea and urgent need to go to the toilet. He was given a category 4 status. (Equivalent to having a severe cold of flu. )That meant a call from an on duty doctor but as his symptoms worsened my DD rang 999again.
Has anyone else had similar problems with getting a medical person to understand what is happening. My daughter would like to campaign for awareness on this.She was made to feel that as she didn’t describe a heart attack there was no emergency.
I feel that doctors, nurses and ambulance dispatchers need to be made very aware symptoms so that anyone who calls with more than a couple will be flagged up as an emergency.
Luckily my SIL made a complete recovery but it might have been a very different outcome.

Telly Tue 30-Jan-18 11:06:45

Useful to know, but the symptoms do sound serious to me. Glad she has made a complete recovery.

Lynnebo Tue 30-Jan-18 11:16:04

Not a heart attack but I presented at our local assessment unit (nearest hospital and the ambulance would be 24 minutes so my son got me in his car to get there)
with a brain haemorrhage. The two nurses decided it was migraine (I knew it wasn't) and wanted to give me paracetamol but couldn't find the keys to the medicine cupboard so searched their handbags. Thank goodness there was an oncall doctor present and I was bluelighted to life saving surgery!!
The NHS is amazing when it works but there are so many things that are specialist and not known generally.
Good to hear your SIL recovered! flowers

Grannyknot Tue 30-Jan-18 15:37:54

I think that this could be a random "fail" of the system by one poor controller. When I dialled 999 when my husband had a heart attack I was asked about half a dozen questions and would have given much the same answers as in the OP (pain, nausea, collapsing, clamminess). A specially equipped cardiac ambulance arrived - I walked out to meet them with the telephone still in my hand.

Willow500 Tue 30-Jan-18 15:44:13

Very frightening - everyone should know these silent symptoms. Lynnebo how lucky were you that those nurses couldn't find the keys!

Nonnie Tue 30-Jan-18 15:57:26

Not at all the same and not as serious. I had a fall and was in so much pain I couldn't cry out and it was a while before family found me. They called an ambulance and the paramedics asked me to walk to the ambulance, which I was not able to do. In A& E I was left on a bed and ignored as we watched others come in and get treated with apparently not much wrong with them. DH several times asked nurses for help but they just gave me some paracetamol. Eventually DS stopped a doctor and made a fuss so they took me to x-ray where once again I was treated as if not much was wrong with me. Then when they had the x-rays they could see light between my three broken ribs and everything changed! I think that, had I been able to make a loud fuss, I would have been treated better but when your ribs are broken you can't take the deep breath required to make that fuss.

Yes, I know it is not popular to complain about the NHS but they are not all devoted angels.

maryeliza54 Tue 30-Jan-18 17:09:18

There’s a difference between complaining about the systemic problems with the NHS and complaining about an individual experience was not satisfactory or even life threatening. However, I do always hope that people complain when the latter happens and even make suggestions about how things could be improved eg more training if they think that’s appropriate. PALS are always good to chat things over with and decide if things need to be formalised or just brought to someone’s attention.

gillyknits Tue 30-Jan-18 17:17:47

The training about silent heart attacks doesn’t seem to be getting through to the sharp end. Also this was a man and they most often happen to women. Some doctors don’t know about the symptoms. I think it needs more publicity. Very little here. Loads in America!

maryeliza54 Tue 30-Jan-18 17:24:13

It’s scary isn’t it gilly - you’d think that call handlers would have really up to date training. One of my neighbours is a paramedic - I’ll ask her what happens down here re recognising such symptoms. My husband was in grave danger once because of the behaviour of a GP receptionist - we only found out afterwards what a close shave he’d had and did make a formal complaint after the GP’s attitude was that she was usually good and no harm was done. Airlines take near misses very seriously indeed and learn from them and so should the NHS

Marydoll Tue 30-Jan-18 18:02:10

Three weeks ago, we called an ambulance for my brother in law 5 times before one arrived. My BIL has multiple health issues, including awaiting major heart surgery and a kidney transplant. Despite this, we waited for nearly four hours before an ambulance came, although he had a hypo whilst waiting for the ambulance. He was too ill for us to get him in the car, or we would have taken him there ourselves, as we have done on previous occasions.
Each time I spoke to a call handler, I could hear in the background that the ambulance service was swamped.
When we got there, ambulances were lined up outside, as there was no room for any more patients inside. It was horrendous.
After 4 hrs in A&E, he was sent home, having being told he was constipated and given laxatives.
Twelve later hours later he was having emergency surgery for a perforated bowel and was told a few minutes longer without surgery and he would have died.
He only survived because the second time, instead of phoning for an ambulance, we phoned his GP, as we were frantic. She came immediately, took one look at him and summoned an ambulance, which arrived in minutes.
After three weeks in hospital, a good part in intensive care, he was discharged (much too soon, in our opinion), only to be taken back in two days later, as they had missed the fact that he had pleurisy.
The health service is indeed in crisis.

gillyknits Tue 30-Jan-18 19:14:53

From the report that my DD received there were three available ambulances available at the time of the first call!
Not ambulances fault, they were there in 18 mins once they were notified! Someone didn’t push the right button.
Mary Liza, I would be interesting to hear your neighbours input on the diagnosis recognition.Thats my point interest.

loopyloo Tue 30-Jan-18 19:37:53

It was hardly a silent M I if he had pain in his throat but sometimes people do have silent heart attacks especially women. Also diabetics sometimes don't feel any pain. Tricky business.
Basically if someone looks ill and shocked they need an ambulance as soon as possible.

Eloethan Wed 31-Jan-18 00:38:35

I think by "silent" it is meant that people think a heart attack must involve severe chest pain which is not necessarily the case. Especially with women, the symptoms may be very different - pain in jaw, severe nausea, stomach/back pain, lightheadedness, etc.

mumofmadboys Wed 31-Jan-18 08:18:54

The symptoms of 'collapse, clamminess, pain in throat, nausea and urgent need to go to the toilet' could be the presenting symptoms of a whole range of medical conditions eg septicaemia, gastroenteritis, ischaemic bowel, angina, heart attack, urinary tract infection, tonsillitis, quinsy to name a few. Patients with these symptoms couldn't necessarily all be red lighted to hospital. Silent heart attacks are sometimes found months later on a routine ECG and may be asymptomatic. Medicine is not an exact science

OldMeg Wed 31-Jan-18 08:33:50

That’s a thought worth holding onto medicine is not an exact science and trying to diagnose in the basis of a phone call is very different to having the patient in front of you.

I’d always suggest that, if possible, you get the patient to A&E yourself. My DS presented with severe chest pains, so DiL bundled the sleeping children into the car and drove to A&E, granted it was only a 10 minute drive. He was quickly diagnosed with pericarditis and treated.

gillyknits Wed 31-Jan-18 10:18:52

This is the point of my discussion. At what point do the symptoms flag up a possible silent heart attack in the medical profession.
Maybe a notification of three or more symptoms would warrant a call out rather than a phone call. Not always an ambulance as long as it was a personal visit. Then appropriate action would be taken.

mumofmadboys Wed 31-Jan-18 12:41:38

Doctors visits are not necessarily done very quickly during out of hours time or even during surgery hours for that matter. The GP system is stretched to its limit.If someone appears really unwell they need to go to A and E where ECGs, blood results etc are available quickly to aid diagnosis. There will always be unusual presentations of certain conditions. Glad your SIL has done well gilly

gillyknits Wed 31-Jan-18 14:03:01

Thanks for that Mumof madboys. He has made a lot of changes to his lifestyle. My daughter couldn’t lift her husband up to get him to the car , even though she was considering it at one point. They live in the middle of nowhere but within fifteen minutes of three ambulance stations.

Shivanibhutani22 Tue 06-Feb-18 12:36:26

Very frightening - everyone should know these silent symptoms.

K9PH Wed 09-Oct-19 06:58:28

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Moocow Wed 04-Dec-19 08:36:25

This is why I get a little upset when I see discounts for nhs staff everywhere but as has been said earlier the nhs is so precious and governments need to stop it being run down, sooooo good when all works but sadly we humans all have our failings. Gilly definitely spread/highlight this silent killer. So much out there we all need educating about.

BlueSky Wed 04-Dec-19 09:37:40

What worries me is seeing ambulance staff in A&E waiting for their patient to be seen. Surely if they could be handed over to hospital staff straight away, after the paramedics have given a briefing, the ambulance would be freed sooner? Shortage of staff for the handover I guess.

wELCOME01 Tue 21-Apr-20 08:25:34

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blondenana Sun 26-Apr-20 20:33:37

Apparently you can have a silent heart attack without pain or symptoms
My neighbour a few years ago had to go to hospital for something else but her heart was examined,and she was asked when she had her heart attack, she said she hadn't had one, but the Dr said she had,because there was scarring on her heart,he said it can happen without knowing