If you’ve ever seen a movie in which an actor suffers a heart attack, you’ve probably seen him clutch his chest, roll his eyes, and groan in intense pain before falling to the ground.
However, a heart attack in Hollywood can be different from a real one.
The pain you experience from a heart attack can be much less dramatic, and it may not even be very painful. If you are having a heart attack, you already know to call 9-1-1 right away. But if you don’t have the telltale sign of sudden chest pain that everyone learns to recognize, it can be confusing. This is called a silent heart attack. It means you don’t even know you are having one. But it is still dangerous and even life threatening.
How can a heart attack be silent?
A silent heart attack is like any other, and just as damaging. Your heart needs oxygen-rich blood to function. If plaque (consisting of fat, cholesterol, and other substances) builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the heart, this blood flow can be significantly or completely disrupted.
The longer your heart has no blood flow, the more damage occurs. Because silent heart attacks can go unnoticed, they can cause a significant amount of damage. And without treatment, they can be deadly.
The good news is, you can prepare by knowing these 4 silent signs of a heart attack.
1. Pain, pressure, fullness or male
Sometimes the pain from a heart attack is sudden and severe, making it easy to recognize and get help. But what happens when it is not?
Most heart attacks actually only involve mild pain or discomfort in the center of your chest. You may also feel pressure, tightness, or fullness. These symptoms usually start slowly and can go away and come back.
This can be tricky because these symptoms may be related to something less serious, such as heartburn. However, you know your body better. If you feel that something is not right, you should be evaluated by a doctor or even go to the emergency room.
2. Discomfort in other areas of your body
A heart attack doesn’t just affect your heart; actually, you can feel the effects all over your body. But this can make identifying a heart attack confusing.
You may experience pain or discomfort in your:
- Arms (one or both)
These symptoms can vary from person to person. For example, some people describe their back pain due to a heart attack as being tied to a rope. You may also feel strong pressure on your back. Either way, if you think you are experiencing any of these less obvious signs of a heart attack, don’t ignore them.
3. Difficulty breathing and dizziness.
If you feel like you just ran a marathon, but only walked up the stairs, that could be a sign that your heart is unable to pump blood to the rest of your body. Shortness of breath can occur with or without chest pain, and is a common sign of a silent heart attack.
You may also feel dizzy or lightheaded, and you may pass out. Although this can happen to both men and women, it is more common for women to experience shortness of breath.
If you’re having trouble with tasks that weren’t difficult before, like making the bed or walking the dog, make sure you get checked in case it’s a subtle sign of a heart attack.
4. Nausea and cold sweats
Waking up with a cold sweat, nausea, and vomiting can be symptoms of the flu, but they can also be signs of a silent heart attack.
Es posible que sepa cómo se siente la gripe porque ha tenido una antes, pero cuando su intestino le diga que estos síntomas similares a los de la gripe son algo más grave, escuche. No atribuya estos síntomas a la gripe, el estrés o simplemente a sentirse mal; pueden ser mucho más graves que eso.