You could be having a heart attack right now and never even realize it.
An alarming 45 percent of heart attacks tracked in a new study by the American Heart Association were “silent,” meaning they caused no symptoms—but that doesn’t mean they weren’t dangerous.
“The outcome of a silent heart attack is as bad as a heart attack that is recognized while it is happening,” said Dr. Elsayed Z. Soliman, senior author of the study. “And because patients don’t know they have had a silent heart attack, they may not receive the treatment they need to prevent another one.”
The study, which tracked over 9,000 people’s cardiovascular health for 29 years, found that these “silent” attacks made their victims three times as likely to die of heart disease, and increased their chances of dying in general by 34 percent.
Women, for some reason, died more frequently of the attacks than men, though men were more prone to having them. In general, participants typically found out they’d had the attack long after it had occurred, during routine tests.
But that doesn’t mean it’s useless to know the symptoms of a more typical heart attack. For that other 55 percent, symptoms can include shortness of breath, chest pain, and cold sweats.