Consequences are often seen years later

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Out: Laura Knops

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Chest pain and shortness of breath are typical symptoms of a heart attack. But the symptoms are not always so obvious.

Chest pressure, severe pain and shortness of breath may indicate a heart attack. But not every heart attack is immediately recognized as such. A heart attack can be clinically inconspicuous. According to doctors, the number of undetected heart attacks is significantly higher than the number of detected ones. But although the symptoms of a silent heart attack are initially mild, such an attack is no less dangerous. Sufferers suffer from a similarly high risk of death in the long term as a typical symptomatic heart attack.

Silent heart attack: sufferers often have no symptoms at all

In the case of a silent heart attack, there are no or very mild symptoms. Since the symptoms are usually not clear, such a heart attack often goes unnoticed and in some cases is not recognized until days, months or even years later. The consequences are no less dramatic. Parts of the heart muscle gradually die due to impaired blood circulation. In the long term, a silent heart attack triples the risk of dying from heart disease. But while men are much more likely to suffer from a silent heart attack, the diagnosis is more likely to be fatal in women.

A heart attack without symptoms usually remains undiagnosed for a long time. © Science Photo Library / Imago

Unlike a classic heart attack, classic symptoms such as severe chest pain, shortness of breath and pain in the arm rarely occur if a heart attack does not occur. Complaints that indicate a silent heart attack are usually so non-specific that sufferers do not pay any further attention to them.

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A silent heart attack: The consequences will not be felt until years later

Since the symptoms can also disappear again after some time and worsen only very slowly, sufferers usually do not take the first symptoms seriously. Affected patients rarely consult a doctor. However, if the subsequent damage goes unnoticed, it can become particularly dangerous in the long run.

According to the German Heart Foundation, typical symptoms of a silent heart attack include the following complaints:

  • fatigue
  • mild shortness of breath
  • nausea
  • feeling weak
  • dizziness
  • unconsciousness

Silent heart attacks are usually discovered by accident. Weeks, months and even years have usually passed by then. The German Heart Foundation therefore recommends that risk factors for a heart attack, such as obesity, high blood pressure, smoking, lack of exercise and high cholesterol, be addressed as soon as possible.

This article contains only general information on the relevant health topic and is therefore not intended for self-diagnosis, treatment or medication. In no case does it replace a doctor’s visit. Unfortunately, our editors are not authorized to answer individual questions regarding clinical images.

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