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Chest pain. It’s the classic symptom that means “heart attack” to many people. But a study of more than 400,000 heart attack sufferers reveals that about one-third of patients do not experience chest pain, and it’s these “silent” heart attacks that may be the most deadly.
Age and Gender May Affect Warning Signs
Studies show that certain groups are less likely to experience chest pain with a heart attack. These groups include women, non-Caucasians and people who have had a stroke. In addition, patients who are age 75 or older or who have nerve damage caused by diabetes may not be able to sense chest discomfort during a heart attack. Additionally, people who experienced chest pain with a previous heart attack may not have it the next time.
Newer medications and procedures are highly effective in treating a heart attack, but they must be administered within one hour after symptoms begin.
Recognizing Symptoms Can Save Your Life
A heart attack can cause a wide range of warning signs other than chest pain. These may include:
“If you think you may be having a heart attack, seek help immediately. But don’t drive to the emergency room,” said Dr. Bret Scher, a Sharp Rees-Stealy-affiliated physician with the Cardiology Department at Sharp Rees-Stealy San Diego. “Call 911 for an ambulance so that the emergency medical team can begin treating you on the way to the hospital.”
Finally, always err on the side of caution. Hesitating out of fear of embarrassment may have serious health consequences. If you’re not sure what you’re experiencing, let the doctors decide whether it’s a false alarm.
How to Choose Sharp Rees-Stealy
Sharp accepts almost all health insurance. For help choosing the Sharp Rees-Stealy physician who is right for you, please call 1-800-82-SHARP (1-800-827-4277), Monday through Friday, 8 am to 6 pm, to speak to a physician referral nurse.
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