Heart attacks are frequently depicted in movies and on television, with the victim clutching his chest, staggering backward, and falling down dramatically before being transported to the hospital. A heart attack, on the other hand, is frequently significantly less dramatic in real life. Many people are completely unaware that they are having a heart attack. The American Heart Association’s journal Circulation revealed in 2016 that nearly half of all heart attacks, or 45 percent, are “silent,” meaning they don’t exhibit conventional symptoms like chest discomfort or left arm weakness. According to the Cleveland Clinic, the figure is much higher: between 50 and 80 percent of all heart attacks are silent.
While a silent heart attack may have no symptoms at all in some circumstances, there is generally some form of indication that something is wrong. It could be so small that the person having a heart attack is completely unaware of what’s going on. This can lead to a delay in seeking medical help, and in the worst-case scenario, those priceless moments can lead to tragedy. Continue reading to learn which symptoms indicate that you (or someone you love) may be having a heart attack.
Shortness of breath.
Climbing a high flight of stairs, as well as experiencing a panic attack, can cause us to get short of breath. According to Healthline, it’s also one of the most subtle heart attack indications to look out for, especially in women. “Your breathing and your heart’s ability to adequately pump blood are inextricably linked,” they write. If you’re having trouble catching your breath for no obvious reason—for example, you’re not exercising—see a doctor straight away to have your heart examined.
Indigestion or heartburn
Have you just finished a spicy dinner or a junk food binge? Your stomach ache and heartburn are most likely typical. According to the Mayo Clinic, indigestion can also be caused by a reduction in blood flow to the heart. “Call 911 or emergency medical treatment if you experience persistent chest pain and aren’t sure it’s heartburn,” they advise. If you go to the nearest emergency department with indigestion, doctors will run testing right away because even expert doctors can’t always detect the difference between a heart attack and heartburn.
Pain in the jaw and/or throat.
You’ve certainly heard of heart attack symptoms like chest pain radiating down your left arm. However, discomfort from a heart attack can manifest itself in various places, including your jaw and throat. While neck and jaw discomfort by itself do not normally indicate a cardiac problem, “if you have pain or pressure in the center of your chest that travels up into your throat or jaw, it could be an indication of a heart attack,” according to Healthline.
Breaking out in a sweat.
A hot day or a workout at the gym can make you sweat, and women going through menopause are used to waking up with drenched sheets thanks to night sweats. However, if you find yourself sweating and experiencing pain in your chest, arm, neck, or jaw, go to the hospital. Perspiration, in combination with any form of pain in those locations, was proven to be a reliable predictor of a heart attack in a 2005 study from the University of Illinois at Chicago.
A general feeling of unease
You don’t feel quite right, but you can’t put your finger on why? Even if you don’t think you’re showing traditional heart attack symptoms, it’s a good idea to have your heart tested. “A broad level of discomfort” and “an overall feeling of unease,” according to Robert Lager, MD, can signal a silent heart attack. He advised people not to “sit around and wonder” if they had a feeling something is wrong. Because the heart is a muscle, and decreasing blood flow from a heart attack is bad for it, don’t overlook any signals that anything is wrong. “The longer one waits to be evaluated, the more likely irreversible harm will occur,” he said.