Written by Dr. Dave Hnida CBS4 Medical EditorThink chest pain or discomfort, and one of the first things that comes to mind is a heart attack. But a new study emphasizes the fact that many women (and even some men) don’t get any chest symptoms when having a heart attack.

And it seems the younger the person, the more likely there will be no chest symptoms … and the deadlier the attack.

The study is the Journal of the American Medical Association and finds up to 42 percent of women age 55 or younger do not get chest pain or discomfort when having a heart attack. So they … and doctors often don’t recognize that there’s a major problem going on. That adds up to a late, or even missed, diagnosis — and a higher rate of death.

Here’s the other deal in this study: it wasn’t only women who lack the classic symptoms. It seems up to 31 percent of younger men also don’t get chest symptoms.

(And for both men and women, I’ve seen this in real life practice for the milder cases. You do an EKG and ask, “Did you know you had a heart attack sometime in the past?” But those are the lucky ones because, once again, all too often the attack isn’t mild and somehow ignored.)

So if there’s no chest symptoms, what should you be paying attention to?

– Discomfort in another area, such as jaw, or shoulder pain.
– Nausea
– Sweating
– A sickly fatigue, just like having the flu
– Shortness of breath.

Get one of these — especially if you have a diabetes, smoke, or have a family history of heart disease — then get to the ER. And even if you don’t have any of these three risk factors — get to the ER.

MORE: HealthONE Heart Health Section


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