There’s a lot of misunderstanding about what a heart attack actually feels like. Many people think heart attacks are announced by intense chest pain — but heart attacks are often much sneakier than that. Studies estimate that around 45% of heart attacks are actually “silent” heart attacks.
What is a silent heart attack?
Silent heart attacks aren’t completely unannounced — they just show milder symptoms than the pain associated with a more massive heart attack.
Silent heart attacks can be especially dangerous because they are often underestimated as a less serious illness. Many symptoms of a silent heart attack might seem like a run-of-the-mill case of anxiety, stomach flu, or even indigestion. In reality, these symptoms could indicate a serious blockage of your arteries.
Am I at risk for a silent heart attack?
Heart attacks can happen to anyone, regardless of age or gender, but some people are more likely to experience a heart attack than others. People who smoke, are overweight or pregnant, have high blood pressure, or have a family history of heart disease should all be on high alert for silent heart attack symptoms.
Learn the symptoms
Just because you are young and healthy doesn’t mean you’re immune to heart disease. To make sure you’re in the clear, learn these common symptoms of a silent heart attack to prevent a heart attack from going undetected.
- Pressure in your chest that doesn’t go away.
If you experience pressure or pain in your chest that won’t seem to go away, then you should be concerned. One of the most common symptoms of a silent heart attack is a persistent pressure in your chest. This pressure is sometimes described as feeling like a weight on your chest that you can’t get off. If chest pain or pressure persists, visit the ER immediately.
Nausea is also a common symptom of a silent heart attack. If you have persistent nausea, queasiness, or vomiting, think about whether it could have been caused by something you ate. If your nausea lasts longer than 24 hours, and especially if it’s accompanied by other heart attack symptoms, you should seek medical attention immediately.
- Pain in random parts of your body.
People who suffer from heart attacks often experience a sharp pain in unusual parts of their body. It is especially common for people suffering from heart attacks to feel pain in their jaw, neck, arms, or back. If you’re experiencing pain in any of these areas, and it won’t seem to go away, take yourself to the nearest emergency room.
- Other symptoms.
There’s a variety of other symptoms associated with heart attacks, including dizziness, shortness of breath, and cold sweats. Some of these symptoms resemble other illnesses, like the flu or COVID-19. If you experience persistent trouble breathing while you’re at rest, and especially if it’s accompanied by other heart attack symptoms, you should get immediate medical attention.
Protection and prevention
If you’re experiencing one or more symptoms of a silent heart attack, don’t panic. Many symptoms of a silent heart attack could be explained by less serious medical conditions.
That said, trust your instincts. If you are experiencing heart attack symptoms out of the blue, and especially if you have risk factors for heart disease, you should go to the ER right away.
Visiting a cardiologist can help you take important measures to prevent a heart attack. Tri-City Cardiology offers cardiology consulting with Phoenix’s most qualified specialists, in locations across the tri-city area. If you’re at risk, we’re here to help.