Could you have a heart attack and not know it?



Right here’s a shocking truth: practically 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 recognized after the occasion, when a recording of the center’s electrical exercise (an electrocardiogram or ECG) or one other check reveals proof of injury to the center.

One clarification for this phenomenon could also be a higher-than-average tolerance for ache. Some folks 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 medication 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 typically 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 could deny their ache and “robust it out” as a result of they don’t wish to seem like weak. Not everybody has a superb 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 word: folks with diabetes could also be much less delicate to ache as a result of the illness can deaden nerves (a situation often known as diabetic neuropathy), theoretically elevating their threat for a silent coronary heart assault.

The place it might harm

Throughout a coronary heart assault, the situation of the ache can even differ fairly a bit from individual to individual, notes Dr. Rosenfield. It might 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 folks typically don’t attribute to a coronary heart assault embody nausea, vomiting, and weak spot.

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, but it surely’s vital to do not forget 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 folks expertise nonclassic signs, and these could also be barely extra frequent in girls and in older folks.

Traditional 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 point
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Again or jaw ache
  • Unexplained fatigue

The publish Could you have a heart attack and not know it? appeared first on Harvard Health Blog.



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