The image most people associate with someone suffering a heart attack (a man clenching his chest in response to intense pain) is accurate – but only to a point. Truth be told, chest pain is only one of several potential heart attack indicators including, among others, a tight feeling in the arm, shortness of breath, and jaw pain. But did you know there is also such a thing as a silent heart attack? One that shows little to no symptoms at all, is just as deadly, and occurs just as often?
What’s Different About A Silent Heart Attack?
Silent heart attacks not only usually show none of the common symptoms such as pressure or pain, they do just as much harm to the heart tissue – and generally more since they are often undiagnosed. A quick response and an immediate trip to a hospital emergency room is the best way to minimize any damage from a heart related incident, but if you don’t realize you may have just experienced a silent heart attack, why would you go to the ER? Often this happens because victims may only experience a shortness of breath while it’s occurring. After they’ve rested for a few minutes and that passes, they think everything is fine. Unfortunately quite the opposite is usually happening.
Silent heart attacks also affect men and women differently. Though men are the victims of them more often, women are actually more likely to die as a result of one. Researchers have not yet discovered the reason behind this, though.
As always – and this really can’t be stressed enough – when it comes to your heart, if there’s ever any doubt at all about the pain you’re feeling, seek immediate medical attention at your nearest emergency room. The only way to accurately diagnose a heart attack, silent or otherwise, is with an electrocardiogram (ECG) test that measures your heart’s electrical activity as it pumps blood. Further hospital tests will then help the ER doctor pinpoint any damage that has occurred, but you must have them done as soon as possible because the longer you wait the more harm you’ll be doing to your heart.