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Can You Miss Your Own Heart Attack?

By Sara Butler

People assume that a heart attack will cause you to grip your chest in pain and collapse to the floor. That’s how it happens in movies, after all! But heart attacks are actually way more complicated than that. According to the National Institutes of Health, almost half of the people who have heart attacks don’t realize they’re having it. This is called a silent heart attack, and it’s diagnosed after it actually happens when tests reveal damage to the heart. What causes these and what should you look for to know if you’re having one?

How Can You Miss a Heart Attack?

Doctors are working to unravel the mysteries of a silent heart attack, but one theory is that some people just tolerate pain better. Some with a high pain tolerance may mistake their symptoms for muscle pain or indigestion, while other people may experience pain somewhere other than their chest and think nothing of it.

The point is that not all heart attacks display classic symptoms, especially in women. The classic heart attack calling cards of chest pain and pressure or a crushing sensation of the chest only occur 50 percent of the time.

Where Does It Hurt?

When you’re having a heart attack, the location of the pain may throw you off, too. It can vary from person to person, with some experiencing it in their arm, neck, shoulder, jaw, or even the ear lobe. A few other non-classic symptoms include vomiting, nausea, and weakness.

Classic vs. Non-Classic Symptoms

The classic symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pressure in the chest
  • Aching in the chest (like a toothache)
  • Tightness in the chest
  • Pain that radiates to the upper body
  • Sweating

Non-classic symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Back pain
  • Jaw pain
  • Dizziness
  • Unexplained fatigue

If you ever experience these symptoms, get it checked out. 

What You Should Do

If you ever suspect you’re having a heart attack, you need to call 911 immediately or get to the emergency room. Many people may try to tough out non-classic heart attack symptoms or write them off because they don’t want to appear weak, but that’s not smart. Even if it’s a false alarm, when it comes to a matter of the heart it’s always going to be better to side with caution!

To learn more about your health and wellness, see your local chiropractor at The Joint Chiropractic.

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