Have you ever seen an actor have a heart attack in a movie? You’ve probably seen them clutch their chests, roll their eyes back, and groan in pain before falling to the ground. But the truth is, a heart attack in Nollywood could be different from reality.
The pain of a heart attack is not always dramatic, you may not even feel pain. But unless you have a sign of sudden chest pain that everyone has learned, it can be confusing. This is known as a silent heart attack. This means you don’t even know you have it, but it’s still dangerous and even life-threatening.
Can a heart attack be silent?
Yes! And it’s like any other heart attack with a disability. Your heart needs oxygen-rich blood to function. When plaque (made up of fat, cholesterol, and other substances) builds up in the arteries that carry blood to the heart, that blood flow can be severely or completely disrupted.
The longer your heart is not supplied with blood, the more damage it does. A silent heart attack can go unnoticed, but it can cause significant damage and, if left untreated, be fatal. The good news is that knowing some of the silent signs of a heart attack can help you prepare.
Chest pain, pressure, bloating, or discomfort
What if the pain from a heart attack isn’t as sudden and severe as we’d like it to be?
Is it getting harder to identify and get help? What should you do at this stage?
Most heart attacks actually involve only mild pain or discomfort in the center of the chest. You may also feel pressure, tightness, or bloating. These symptoms usually start slowly and may go away and come back. This can be tricky because these symptoms can be associated with something less serious like heartburn. However, you know your body best. If you think something is wrong, you should see a doctor or even go to the emergency room.
Discomfort in other areas of the body.
A heart attack doesn’t just affect your heart, you can feel its effects throughout your body. However, this can confuse the identification of a heart attack. You may feel pain or discomfort in your:
These symptoms can vary from person to person. For example, some people describe back pain after a heart attack as feeling like there’s a rope around them. You can also feel a lot of pressure on your back. However, if you think you may be experiencing one of these less obvious signs of a heart attack, don’t ignore it.
Difficulty breathing and dizziness.
If you feel like you’ve just run a marathon but have just climbed the stairs, it may be a sign that your heart isn’t able to pump blood around 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 light-headed and faint. While it can occur in both men and women, women are more likely to experience shortness of breath.
If you’re having trouble doing a task that wasn’t previously difficult, like for example, if you go to bed or walk your dog, be sure to double-check to see if this is a subtle sign of a heart attack.
Nausea and cold sweat
Waking up in a cold sweat, nausea, and vomiting can be flu symptoms, but they can also be signs of a silent heart attack. You may know what it’s like to have the flu because you’ve had it before, but if your gut is telling you that these flu-like symptoms are more severe, listen up. Don’t attribute these symptoms to the flu, stress, or simply a feeling that they could get a lot worse.
It’s important to be aware of the silent signs of a heart attack, but there’s no point in ignoring them. Even if you are not sure if you are having a heart attack, if you are experiencing some or all of the symptoms. While these signs don’t necessarily mean you’re having a heart attack, you should be careful. The sooner you get emergency care, the higher the chance of surviving a heart attack.