The research underscores the importance of paying attention to lingering, hard-to-pin-down symptoms in older adults, experts say. Many elderly men and women tend to dismiss these; caregivers shouldn’t let that happen.
The JAMA report is based on data from 936 men and women ages 67 to 93 from Iceland who agreed to undergo EKGs and magnetic resonance imaging exams to detect whether heart attacks had occurred. EKGs assess the heart’s electrical activity, while M.R.I.’s look at its mechanical pumping activity.
When results were tallied, silent heart attacks were twice as common (22 percent) among older patients as recognized heart attacks (10 percent). Five years after tests were administered, death rates for patients with both recognized and silent heart attacks were 23 percent, almost double the 12 percent death rate for older adults who’d never experienced a myocardial infarction, the technical name for heart attack.