Could you have a heart attack and not know it?


Right here’s a stunning truth: almost half of people that have a coronary heart assault don’t understand it on the time. These so-called silent coronary heart assaults are solely identified after the occasion, when a recording of the guts’s electrical exercise (an electrocardiogram or ECG) or one other take a look at reveals proof of harm to the guts.

One rationalization for this phenomenon could also be a higher-than-average tolerance for ache. Some individuals mistake their signs as indigestion or muscle ache, whereas others could really feel ache, however in elements of their higher physique apart from the middle of the chest, says Dr. Kenneth Rosenfield, who heads the vascular drugs and intervention part at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts Basic Hospital.

Completely different sensations?

“Many individuals don’t understand that in a coronary heart assault, the traditional symptom of chest ache occurs solely about half of the time,” he says. Individuals generally describe coronary heart assault signs as chest discomfort or strain, whereas others say they really feel an intense, crushing sensation or a deep ache just like a toothache.

Sure persons are much less delicate to ache than others, or they might deny their ache and “powerful it out” as a result of they don’t need to look like weak. Not everybody has a great sense of their very own ache tolerance, nonetheless, and a number of different elements (equivalent to your emotional state) can have an effect on ache notion. Of be aware: individuals with diabetes could also be much less delicate to ache as a result of the illness can deaden nerves (a situation often called diabetic neuropathy), theoretically elevating their threat for a silent coronary heart assault.

The place it might damage

Throughout a coronary heart assault, the situation of the ache can even range fairly a bit from individual to individual, notes Dr. Rosenfield. It could happen within the arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, or elsewhere within the higher half of the physique. “I had one affected person who had earlobe ache, and one other who felt ache in his wrist,” says Dr. Rosenfield. Different nonclassic signs individuals usually don’t attribute to a coronary heart assault embrace nausea, vomiting, and weak point.

Throughout his profession, Dr. Rosenfield has seen many 1000’s of people that’ve had coronary heart assaults. “There’s no query that ladies usually tend to expertise nonclassic coronary heart assault signs, however it’s essential to keep in mind that males can have these signs, too.”

Coronary heart assault signs

Though the most typical signal of a coronary heart assault in each women and men is the traditional one — discomfort within the middle of the chest that spreads by way of the higher physique — this symptom doesn’t at all times happen. Some individuals expertise nonclassic signs, and these could also be barely extra frequent in girls and in older individuals.

Basic signs Nonclassic signs
  • Strain, aching, or tightness within the middle of the chest
  • Ache or discomfort that radiates to the higher physique, particularly shoulders or neck and arms
  • Sweating
  • Shortness of breath
  • Weak spot
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Again or jaw ache
  • Unexplained fatigue

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