Everyone knows the symptoms of a heart attack, right? The feeling of tightness … chest pain … pain in the arms … sweating … shortness of breath ….
You just can’t miss it, can you?
Wrong. You can. And many people do.
Heart attacks occur when there is a blockage in a blood vessel and the heart stops receiving blood.
Sometimes symptoms are apparent, and sometimes they are not.
Heart attacks that occur without obvious symptoms—often leaving their victims completely unaware of what has happened—are called silent heart attacks.
Many people have no idea that heart attacks can happen undetected. Yet, according to silentheartattack.org, “Twice as many people die from a silent heart attack as compared to those that experienced a myocardial infarction with chest pain.”
Risk factors for silent heart attacks are the same as the risk factors for clinically recognized heart attacks. According to the Mayo Clinic, these include:
- Tobacco use
- Family history of heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Lack of exercise
- Excessive weight
It is important to be aware that undetected heart attacks are every bit as dangerous as the “real thing.” Some people even argue that silent heart attacks are more dangerous than heart attacks exhibiting obvious signs. The reason? People are quick to understand the seriousness of a heart attack that comes complete with chest pain and other classic symptoms. As a result, they are more likely to get prompt treatment, which is often vital to recovery. They are more likely to get the drugs they need to lower cholesterol. They are more likely to make lifestyle changes that will reduce their chance of getting a second heart attack. In other words, they’re more likely to know what they’re dealing with, and they’re more likely to get the help they need.