Noticing a Heart Attack

Could You Have a Heart Attack and Not Know It?

Unknown Heart AttackOne minute, you feel fine. The next, you still feel fine. But in between, you just might have had a heart attack.

For a study in the journal Circulation, researchers tracked about 9,500 adults for an average of nine years. Over that time, 4.1 percent were diagnosed with heart attacks.

The shocker: During follow-up testing, an additional 3.3 percent showed evidence of heart attacks that never showed up in their medical records.

Lack of Symptoms Worsens Prognosis

These so-called silent heart attacks often proved deadly. Those who had them were three times more likely to die of heart disease than those who didn’t have a heart attack at all.

That’s no surprise, the study authors point out. After a heart attack, fast action is crucial. People who don’t know they’ve suffered one likely didn’t get potentially lifesaving treatments, such as medications to restore blood flow.

Reduce Your Risk—and Seek Help Swiftly

Risk factors for a silent heart attack are the same as those for any heart problem. These include high blood pressure, smoking, and a family history of heart disease. Talk with your doctor about how to assess—and reduce—your chances.

In the meantime, stay alert for subtle signs of heart attacks. These include fatigue, nausea, and pain that feels like indigestion. (Find a more complete rundown here.)

Call 911 if you suspect you might be having a heart attack—even if you aren’t sure. Ignoring symptoms because you’re embarrassed or scared could cause a dangerous delay in treatment. Emergency medical personnel can evaluate your symptoms and get you to the hospital as quickly as possible.

Learn about emergency care at Norwalk Hospital here.