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Heart Disease Symptoms Aren’t Always Obvious, Research Shows

— April 18, 2023

Some heart attack warning signs are hard to identify.

It’s no secret that heart disease is a huge problem both in the United States and throughout the world. Plenty of people are aware of their risk of heart disease and they take steps to decrease their chances of becoming a victim. Despite that awareness and countless hours poured into research, hidden heart disease symptoms can make the condition remain a silent killer in the way it can sneak up and attack individuals who were previously unaware that anything could be wrong. 

Many people would be surprised to learn that nearly half of heart attacks show up without any symptoms that are commonly associated with this health condition. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t signs within the body that would point to the risk of a heart attack; it’s just that some people don’t have any noticeable symptoms in advance of their heart attack occurring. 

Research that was performed in Denmark highlighted just how serious this issue is and how many people are living with a potentially dangerous situation impacting their cardiovascular health. With more than 9,000 people involved in the study, the key designation was that the participants did not have existing symptoms of heart disease, although all were 40 and older, so she may have been a factor. 

Heart Disease Symptoms Aren't Always Obvious, Research Shows
Photo by Annija Ungura from Pexels

Despite not having a known history, a surprising percentage of these people had some form of heart disease, at least to some degree. Roughly 10% were found to have obstructive disease in their arteries, which is particularly dangerous and can lead to heart attack events at some point in the future. Nearly 200 people within the study died in less than four years, with more than 70 experiencing heart attacks. 

The results of this study make it clear that looking for signs of heart disease – even in the absence of symptoms – is critical. Many people will not deal with symptoms while heart disease is developing, so they will have no idea that trouble is developing in their arteries. By visiting the doctor to be examined and tested for hidden signs of the disease, earlier intervention can be taken, if necessary. 

This is particularly important for people who have certain risk factors. People with risk factors such as a history of heart disease in the family, smoking, diabetes, obesity, high blood pressure, a lack of exercise, and other issues should be particularly aware of their elevated risk. Again, these people will not necessarily have any obvious symptoms other than these ancillary conditions, so looking into heart health as early as possible will allow medical professionals to assign treatments that can significantly reduce the likelihood of heart attacks in the future. 

One good way to look for signs of heart disease without symptoms is to take the CT calcium test. This test assigns a score to the patient based on the presence of plaque in the coronary arteries. For just a few hundred dollars or less, a patient can gain insight into their heart health and decide if further care is necessary, or if a change in lifestyle might be helpful. Getting ahead of the game is always best when it comes to any kind of healthcare, and that’s certainly true when it comes to the heart. 


Heart disease, the silent killer: Study shows it can strike without symptoms

CDC: The Nation’s Risk Factors and CDC’s Response

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