The risks of a ‘silent heart attack’


SAN FRANCISCO (KRON) – Many people know the “classic” symptoms of a heart attack, but sometimes those symptoms are silent. Health expert, Karen Owoc, says it is as dangerous as a classic heart attack.

Dangerous? Karen says:

  • One-quarter of heart attack patients say they experienced NO symptoms or different symptoms.
  • Some never find out until a test reveals tissue damage in the heart.
  • A silent heart attack is just as dangerous as a heart attack with full symptoms.
  • When you’re symptomatic, you seek medical attention, but if you don’t know you’re having an MI, you don’t get treatment.
  • Without immediate treatment, you can end up with more heart damage and complications in the future.

Classic Hallmark Symptoms of a Heart Attack 

  • Heaviness, tightness or pressure in the chest (left of center)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Intense pain radiating down the arm and/or jaw

Female Heart Attack Symptoms

  • Women tend to have different symptoms that aren’t the typical classic symptoms.
  • Their symptoms are often mistaken for something less serious, such as fatigue, indigestion, heartburn, or muscle strain.
  • A Circulation study showed that 43% of women do NOT experience acute chest pain at all during a heart attack.

Other subtle symptoms include:

  • Pain in the arm or neck (feels like a pulled muscle)
  • Shortness of breath (feels like a lung problem)
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Vague, indescribable feeling

When people experience these symptoms, they expect them to go away and they often do.

Risk Factors

Those at risk for a full-symptom heart attack are also at risk for a silent one.

  • Men are more prone to having silent heart attacks than women.
  • Diabetics are twice as likely to have heart disease than those with normal blood glucose levels.

Silent Heart Attacks Are Still a Mystery

Cardiologists are still trying to learn more as to why people don’t feel their chest pain during a heart attack.

The Takeaway: Listen to your body and intuition. Don’t ignore subtle symptoms. It’s much better to go to the hospital and confirm it’s something else like acid reflux.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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