Could you have a heart attack and not know it?

Active senior checks her heart rate on her sports watch

Here’s a surprising fact: nearly half of people who have a heart attack don’t realize it at the time. These so-called silent heart attacks are only diagnosed after the event, when a recording of the heart’s electrical activity (an electrocardiogram or ECG) or another test reveals evidence of damage to the heart.

One explanation for this phenomenon may be a higher-than-average tolerance for pain. Some people mistake their symptoms as indigestion or muscle pain, while others may feel pain, but in parts of their upper body other than the center of the chest, says Dr. Kenneth Rosenfield, who heads the vascular medicine and intervention section at Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.

Different sensations?

“Many people don’t realize that during a heart attack, the classic symptom of chest pain happens only about half of the time,” he says. People sometimes describe heart attack symptoms as chest discomfort or pressure, while others say they feel an intense, crushing sensation or a deep ache similar to a toothache.

Certain people are less sensitive to pain than others, or they may deny their pain and “tough it out” because they don’t want to appear to be weak. Not everyone has a good sense of their own pain tolerance, however, and a host of other factors (such as your emotional state) can affect pain perception. Of note: people with diabetes may be less sensitive to pain because the disease can deaden nerves (a condition known as diabetic neuropathy), theoretically raising their risk for a silent heart attack.

Where it may hurt

During a heart attack, the location of the pain can also vary quite a bit from person to person, notes Dr. Rosenfield. It may occur in the arm, shoulder, neck, jaw, or elsewhere in the upper half of the body. “I had one patient who had earlobe pain, and another who felt pain in his wrist,” says Dr. Rosenfield. Other nonclassic symptoms people often don’t attribute to a heart attack include nausea, vomiting, and weakness.

During his career, Dr. Rosenfield has seen many thousands of people who’ve had heart attacks. “There’s no question that women are more likely to experience nonclassic heart attack symptoms, but it’s important to remember that men can have those symptoms, too.”

Heart attack symptomsAlthough the most common sign of a heart attack in both men and women is the classic one — discomfort in the center of the chest that spreads through the upper body — this symptom doesn’t always occur. Some people experience nonclassic symptoms, and these may be slightly more frequent in women and in older people.
Classic symptomsNonclassic symptoms
Pressure, aching, or tightness in the center of the chestPain or discomfort that radiates to the upper body, especially shoulders or neck and armsSweatingShortness of breathWeaknessNausea or vomitingDizzinessBack or jaw painUnexplained fatigue

Related Information: Diseases of the Heart

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Whoever would foster love covers over an offense, but whoever repeats the matter separates close friends. Proverbs 17:9 NIV

Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:32 NIV

For if you forgive other people when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. Matthew 6:14 NIV

Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. Colossians 3:13 NIV

If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.

2 Chronicles 7:14 NIV

Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven. Luke 6:37 NIV

Bible verses for today’s meditation and inspiration: Matthew E. McLaren

Who is a God like you, who pardons sin and forgives the transgression of the remnant of his inheritance?You do not stay angry forever but delight to show mercy. Micah 7:18 NIV

You, Lord, are forgiving and good, abounding in love to all who call to you. Psalm 86:5 NIV

Therefore, my friends, I want you to know that through Jesus the forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you. Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses. Acts 13:38-39 NIV

He is the atoning sacrifice 1 John 2:2 NIV

Recommended contacts for prayer request and Bible study

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breathoflife.tv/

http://www.nadadventist.org/article/15/contact-us

http://3abn.org/all-streams/3abn.

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