Beware the Silent Heart Attack

Pay attention to unusual heart symptoms


While a vast majority of people will have a heart attack with traditional symptoms (chest discomfort or pain, cold sweat, extreme weakness), there is a subgroup of people, around 20 to 30 percent, who will have atypical symptoms or no symptoms at all. It is most common for women and people with diabetes to have atypical heart attack symptoms, but it can happen to anyone. 

What are these unusual symptoms?

Some of the non-classic symptoms include unexplained fatigue, shortness of breath and/or discomfort in the throat, neck, jaw or a single extremity. Other patients will experience what feels like heartburn, and they will simply take medication to relieve the heartburn instead of recognizing that the pain could be coming from their heart.

Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist Curtis Rimmerman, MD, says people think a heart attack should be pain on the left side of the chest, but it is most often not a sharp pain, but rather discomfort felt in the center of the chest with a squeezing or tightness. Given the way television and movies portray a heart attack as an obvious event, it is not surprising that these less common symptoms can pass without being noticed as a heart attack.

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Discovering the heart attack

Patients who have had an unrecognized heart attack may come to the doctor weeks or months after the event to find out about it. It is often recognized on the EKG during the patient’s yearly physical. “We can tell the size of the heart attack by how much heart muscle has been damaged, often by an electrocardiogram and even more precisely with a cardiac ultrasound known as an echocardiogram,” says Dr. Rimmerman.

Other patients will visit their doctors soon after an unrecognized heart attack because they are experiencing persistent symptoms such as fatigue and shortness of breath. In some cases, this can result from mitral valve leakage or other structural heart complications caused by scarring of the heart muscle from the heart attack. Serious developments can follow, including decompensated heart failure, heart rhythm disorders and a loss of consciousness.

Do not ignore odd signs

“People who experience a heart attack without recognizing it and survive are very fortunate,” Dr. Rimmerman says. “If you feel sustained discomfort for a period of a few minutes, especially if the symptoms are new and without clear explanation, you should not ignore these concerns.”

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Often people sense that something is wrong, but they do not want to believe it is a heart attack. They ignore symptoms or attribute them to something else. There was a recently documented case in which a patient thought he was experiencing food poisoning only to find out a couple of days later that he had, in fact, had a heart attack.

If you have new onset heartburn-like symptoms or any of the above symptoms, you should seek care. “If it turns out to be heartburn, at least you have excluded something less threatening,” he says. “Don’t let uncertainly lead to regret later for you or your family.

The bottom line is “you should not be your own physician,” warns Dr. Rimmerman. “If you experience a distinct change in how you feel, no matter how subtle, you should seek medical attention.” 

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  • Fernando Domeniconi

    Mine was exactly like that, I had mild pain in the center of the chest for over a week (it was not a heart attack then, I was told it was only angina), the EKG came out normal until a day that I felt a strange feeling of doom (cannot find a better way to describe it) so I went to the ER and I was having the heart attack. Luckily, it was a minor one, no damage to the heart, but I have a stent.

  • Linda Sarangoulis

    Good article – however, I’ve been dealing with these exact symptoms for close to 20 years. I’ve had every test (including those mentioned) – multiple times. I see my cardiologist yearly (or more as needed)… Fernando mentioned a, “feeling of doom”… I know exactly what you mean – and you’re correct. I get chest pain, pain in my arm and jaw, and feel like my heart just isn’t in a good place. No other way to describe it. I have gone to the ER – just to be told I didn’t have a heart attack (good news)…but when you have these symptoms – you just want to know what is causing it – and FIX it!

    • Mona a

      It is funny, that I hate to say it but I am not alone.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Linda – even though you have been checked out in the emergency room – I would suggest an appointment with a cardiologist for a second opinion. Perhaps a women’s cardiovascular center. If heart causes are truly ruled out then other causes can be explored – .

      • tom Blatchley

        I had a heart attack on July 19,2014 but this was my second in 6years, yet symptoms were none like I thought as I went into a freezing like. Teeth chattering , the I have cold so I started to breath hard. My wife after a few hours got me up and took me to DR. Found out as the put in 3 stents. Said I had less then 15 min of Time left. That was close, and scared the crap out of me.

  • Pamela Savage Martin

    If I went to the hospital every time I have had chest pains, weakness, feeling of doom. I would be there every night. How do you know when to go. There are nights I am sure it’s a heart attack, pain in the arm etc.. so horrible not knowing what to do and fearing you will die on your sleep.

    • Marjorie

      I went in for my annual check-up with my internist (who is very thorough) and was told that I had had a silent heart attack and my EKG showed it. It had happened 2 or 3 years before (I know, I skipped check-ups for 2-3 years!, my bad). So I was freaked because I could not tell you at what point I even thought I had one. I am prone to anxiety attacks so I deal with the symptoms and move on. Dr suggested a heart cath to look for blockage and the results showed very little in one and none in the others. Worrying about it gives me anxiety so I guess I will live with this and maybe someday die in my sleep! Could be worse ways to go!!

      • The_Beating_Edge_Team

        Hi Marjorie – make sure that you are managing your risk factors (don’t smoke, exercise, eat right, keep your blood pressure, blood sugar and lipids in control) – this will decrease your risk for further progression of heart disease.

      • Elizabeth Brown

        I had a non invasive heart Cath, because my Mother had complications from one, I asked for non invasive. My heart was fine, but they found a small calculus deposit. I don’t remember the name of the procedure.

        • The_Beating_Edge_Team

          there are non-invasive procedures that look at calcium in the arteries – but unfortunately – the only gold standard procedures to truly see coronary blockage at this time is the cardiac cath. betsyRN

          • Elizabeth Brown

            Really, well the test took 3 hours, came up with a dianoses, so they do have a test, I just don’t remember the name of it! Contact Baptist East or South Hospital in Montgomery, Alabama!

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      That is a hard question to answer. The first step is to be evaluated when you are having those symptoms and see what the testing shows – if you are having a heart attack. Even if your emergency room (ER) tests comes back negative, it is important after that ER visit, to see a cardiologist for further evaluation. Then….. if all cardiac causes are ruled, out, it would be important to be evaluated for other causes of chest pain – .But – to answer your question, it is always best to be safe rather than sorry. So before all heart disease is ruled out – get checked when you have symptoms. betsyRN

      • James Lee

        Ok. I’m really concerned, 48 hours ago now I had serious chest pain which did feel like a knife twisting which made me not be able to breath in without it hurting. I can’t take a drag of a cigarette without severe pain in chest like an ax hitting my chest. Very bad chills and hot and cold sweats with a constant heart burn which in the past was due to my flap in my throat not working anymore, but this time it’s constant and I just can’t breath in fully and sure can’t smoke. This happened instantly 48 hours ago when I originall had severe chest pain. I don’t like Drs as I don’t have insurance and they tend to just wanna get you out of there. I also must mention at 38 I damaged muscle tissue which dr said I had the heart of a 57 year old. I am now 44. Should I go to er or keep trying to wait for it to pass? Ty please help

        • Teresa Cartwright

          I had my first heart attach at 48. Although you may have something known as esophageal spasms it could just as easily be a heart attach. the only way to know for sure is to go to the E.R. Do NOT drive yourself, call an ambulance. I had my husband drive me and waited in the waiting room for over and hour before anyone saw me. Yes it will be expensive but its worth it. You might be saving your own life. If its not then you will learn how to treat the spasms.

        • The_Beating_Edge_Team

          James – agree with Teresa – you need to be evaluated – there are many causes for chest pain but heart disease ALWAYS has to be ruled out first – especially, it sounds like you have some heart history. Hospitals and most social service agencies have resources to help people sign up for some type of insurance at this time or will assist you in payment plans. Get checked out! and please stop smoking. betsyRN

    • Beckster

      Pamela, I am a cardiac RN! In answer to your question on how or when to know when you should go seek help: it is always error on the side of caution! Get checked out, they can do blood tests and EKG, then you will know!! There are other diagnosis that can cause those feelings too, it is best to let your doc check it out!!!

      • Christye

        My husband is in the hospital right now ecg.was normal and the blood enzymes test. Waiting on heart cath now after a medicine stress test.

    • Trying to be helpful

      You sound exactly like my boyfriend. Please consider that you may have an anxiety disorder. See your doctor.

    • lucyh

      I know what you mean. I have asthma and acid reflux and I get anxiety attacks. I have chest pain, discomfort, shortness of breath and cold sweats several times a week. I have often thought that I could easily have a heart attack and never know it.

      • Teresa Cartwright

        I also have had asthma all my life and often wondered the same thing. I can tell you that the chest pain caused from a heart is very different than and asthma attack. Also remember for a woman the symptoms for a heart attach are very different that those of a man. Although it could be “pain”, for me it was pressure. There was actually no pain I just couldn’t get a deep breath but there was no wheezing. In the E.R. they still call it pain however, it did NOT hurt. It literally felt like someone or something was sitting on my chest. If you have any doubt at all you should go to the E.R. Don’t drive yourself! If you are having a heart attack you could die waiting. I waited over an hour in the waiting room before I was seen. By the time I left the hospital a couple of days later, I had 2 stents in my heart. If you are having this several times a week you really should see your Doctor. They can help you understand and treat the esophageal spasms. Try to see your Doctor now. If you have another one of these before you see them DON’T WAIT, and DON’T BE embarrassed or upset about the cost if turns out to be nothing. Better to go thru the experience of being diagnosed with nothing than to die trying not to appear silly or save money.

    • m

      look into esophagus spasms, that’s what your having, mimics heat attack symptoms. try sleeping on your right side or back!

  • shweta

    Yesterday my grandmother is suffering from major heart attack…. Last month she was suffering from minor heart attack… What can I do know

  • Lew

    I had a major MI with 100% block in my LAD. Hollywood has done us all a major disservice to dramatize heart attack symptoms. I never felt pain. Just profuse sweating and dizziness. If I had been working out I would have put it down to working out too hard. For those of us who are silent ischemics get to know your limits and your signs. Push the limits to recover your strength but never forget the signs.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Thank you Lew for sharing this.

  • Ursula

    My internist at a Cleveland Clinic facility in a Southwest suburb of Cleveland never picked up on anything even though I did mention the tightening in the chest & fatique and several other symptoms. Last November I contacted him with a problem that was becoming very troublesome and painful, he sent me to a facility in an northeastern suburb to see a nurse practitioner in their walk in clinic. Closer to home for me. She did not listen to my symptoms, description of pain or location of pain. She treated me very badly, like a stupid, unclean and annoying old woman. Luckily a few days later after insistence by my daughter and husband I went to the emergency room at Euclid hospital. They found the problem within 2 hours, had a procedure the next day, was in the hospital almost a month and they saved my life. Needless to say, I now have new doctors. Still within the Cleveland Clinic system but they listen. To all doctors reading this, stop treating women, especially older ones, like foolish alarmists and listen to us. We may not be pretty any longer but we are still worth helping.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Thanks for your note Ursula. I am glad you were persistent in your quest for care. Sometimes we need to be our own health care advocate. If you have a doctor that does not listen – you need to find another doctor and I am glad you have found that. Let us know if you have any questions in the future. betsyRN

    • guest

      I was treated the same way, very rude and unconcerned Cardiologist.

    • Eric Serlin

      Hi Ursula, in my opinion this incompetent RN should have been brought up on charges of gross negligence!

    • Nancy Krystofik

      That is exactly what happens, love what you said about not pretty anymore, I have and do feel the same way when seeking help.

  • Metzmar

    This is not helpful and frankly, a little bit ridiculous. The entire population can’t run to the emergency room every time they experience heartburn or a pain in an extremity. The cost would be enormous. It would fill emergency rooms with nonemergencies and potentially delay care to those who need immediate care.

    • Dana

      They said “new onset heartburn symptoms,” as in you have never had heartburn before. They didn’t say go every time you have it. And oftentimes when we have pain in extremities we can point to a reason why. Presumably whoever wrote this article means to get it checked out if you *can’t* identify why you’re suffering extremity pain. That OK with you? You want to know what’s really expensive? Open-heart surgery.

      • Elizabeth Brown

        Amen, expensive and takes mos. of recovery to feel like your old self again!

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Metzmar – people who experience chest pain – until heart is ruled out need to be evaluated. The guidelines from the AHA and ACC recommend evaluation and calling of 911 or chest pain lasting longer than 5 minutes – . Once heart causes are ruled out for symptoms, then one can proceed at a more leisurely pace. In addition, research has noted that for those who are discharged from the ED after an evaluation for chest pain, who follow up with their physician, have better outcomes –

  • Regina Thompson Reighard

    I’ve been having occasional sweats you’d think I was having hot flashes but went thrum that 30 years ago. This has been happening only the past week and I am in AC.. and I mean sweat. No other symptoms.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      If you are having new symptoms such as sweating – a good place to start would be with your family doctor or primary care doctor. There are actually many causes for this – and it should be evaluated. Here is a good page that may be helpful to you –

  • Dana

    When I was first old enough to imbibe alcohol legally, I developed a fondness for daquiris. That got nipped in the bud as I figured out I had to be careful with the fruity drinks because I reacted badly to a few of them. I was at a bar one evening with friends and developed unpleasant chest symptoms where I felt squeezed and couldn’t fill my lungs as fully when I breathed. I went outside to get fresh air and eventually it wore off. I also had that experience a time or two with wine coolers so I began avoiding them too. Reading about the symptoms here makes me wonder a little, but I was in my early 20s at the time and I have never had anyone tell me since then that my heart sounded funny in any way. No idea. (I’m 40 now.)

  • Windy

    My Daughter is 24 and has a pacemaker. She has been having pain for two days in her left arm. I feel so sorry for her. She is on so many medications. When she calls her Doctor he acts like she is just a worry wart. What should I do?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Windy – your daughter should be evaluated for her left arm pain by her cardiologist or primary care provider. It can be caused by many things, but if this is a new symptom, and she is uncomfortable, she should be evaluated. Here is a link to symptoms of coronary artery disease – ; if it is in the same side as the pacemaker, there may be issues with the pacemaker generator placement putting pressure on a nerve or circulation; or, it may not be related to the heart condition at all – but may be related to nerve, muscle or circulation in that arm – in any case, she should see her doctor. betsyRN

  • Sunny

    wow – nervous reading this – I had pain in the middle of the chest and jaw hurts – went away – should I have gone to the er

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      If it lasts longer than 5 minutes – yes. If not – then you should schedule a visit with your doctor to talk about these new symptoms. betsyRN

  • Mia

    Wish I could afford to go to the doctor for basic care let alone run there every time something seemed amiss.
    Insurance is expensive and the copayment is ridiculous. Non insured get to suffer and die faster, I suppose. America.
    Home of the brave.

    • J

      Suppose you’d rather have me pay for it.

      • Janet

        You are a horrible person to say something like that!

        • Cindy

          I agree with Janet you are a horrible person J to ever say such a thing to anyone. It just may someday be you walking in those shoes, or your child or your grandchildren! Shame on you .You should go and get checked out to see if you “HAVE A HEART”!!

          • Bridget Adell Oyer

            There’s a light bit of logic to his comment….unless she has a very good reason for not having insurance. Disabled, ect. I only pay $100 a month for insurance and copay to see specialist is only $35, emergency is $75 (but, it is billed to me if I don’t have it at time of service) and $25 for a regular Dr visit.. That’s not too expensive to afford. I only earn $14 an hour, I’m not at all rolling in cash.

      • 1bestdog

        you are an azzwhole

    • Diann

      I had the experience of getting kicked out of an emergency room told my chest pain was not an emergency and I needed to see a shrink. By the way I have had a previous heart attack and four stents. The uninsured are expected to go die quietly. I however refuse to fall on my sword. When I had my heart attack I was left in the waiting room with debilitating chest pain and vomiting non stop. My first ekg and cardiac enzymes were negative. When my husband tried to get help for me he was told Sir she is not having a heart attack. But I was and came very close to dying. Don’t let arrogant Doctors intimidate you. This was a major heart hospital in Houston. You are important to God so don’t let jerks like that get to you.

      • Teresa Cartwright

        It is VERY HARD for women to be taken seriously but it is slowly changing. I waited for over an hour in the waiting room. Then after I finally got in all the tests came back neg. But… the E.R. physician, that nigh,t admitted me just because of what I was telling him. God bless that man! I left the hospital a couple days later with 2 stents.

  • Mary

    I was just shopping and all of a sudden my upper back and chest started hurting, the chest eased up than my left side started, than left side eased up and chest started along with the upper back pain and jaw area started. Went to sit down and it all went away. Lasted for about 5 mins total. Came home and left arm felt a little sore but, no longer. I have called dr but, in meantime what are your thoughts on this? Thanks in advance.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Mary – you need to be evaluated as soon as possible. If this discomfort returns in any of the locations, or you begin to have other symptoms such as shortness of breath, dizziness, extreme fatigue, or the symptoms listed at, please seek emergency treatment. Your pain is very suspicious of heart pain. Even if it does not come back, you need to see your doctor for an evaluation. betsyRN

  • Ambivalent

    I had hard pain in the middle of my chest and got light headed. It brought me to my knees in the middle of the kitchen and lasted for a few minutes. Afterward I called and left a message for a nurse, she left a phone message saying to go if it was pain that didn’t stop. (I am uninsured, for this and other reasons, don’t want to go to an emergency room if I don’t have to.) I feel tired after, but not much else.

  • Shirley

    Having same issues as many I have read here. I was completely ( heart )checked out last summer and came out in top physical condition. But this past wk-end I had symptoms and couldn’t figure out if it was bad pizza , that ended up being a stomach bug ..had pain under my left rib that was relieved by belching up air. This lasted from midnight till 4 am. On monday started having nausea, belching , lightheadedness and fatigue ( stress? ) and my left arm is aching ( get that when I sleep on my arms. ) Am still having symptoms of a stomach bug ( this is saturday ). I also in the last several years have made my trips to the ER thinking it was my heart. Fine…each time. How do I know when it really is my heart .

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Shirley – that is a tough one – and if you called our nurse line and had symptoms of chest discomfort, with lightheadedness and nausea and left arm pain – I would send you to the emergency room – because it is ALWAYS best to be safe than sorry. When you have continued symptoms – you should contact your doctor – he or she may want to check you out in any case to make sure it is in fact a stomach bug. Sometimes, especially as a woman ( we can have non-traditional symptoms), it is hard to tell. betsyRN

  • Roxana Celestina

    If you feel discomfort in your chest in 90% of the cases is due to gastric problems and your stomach top ring. Try a few forced burbs from your through and then you will remember me. DO NOT TRUST THE DOCTORS. MOST OF THEM ARE EMPLOYED TO MAKE MONEY FOR THE INSTITUTIONS WHICH EMPLOYS THEM. Give it a go and you will not be stented or duped to take their medication prescribed with tricks in the sleeves by them. And the secret is to eat less and have a good digestion.

  • Heather

    I have panic disorder, and I thought it was a safe thing to do to go see a cardiologist to make sure it wasn’t my heart when I get chest pains, etc. So he gave me a nuclear stress test, ekg, and echo. All tests normal. It put my mind at ease . I had all these tests done in Dec 2014. Now I know for sure it’s not my heart at all its my muscles tightening from a panic attack. Better be safe then sorry.

  • Barbara Rucker

    I have severe shortness of breath with exertion such as bending over or lifting something heavy from the floor. Sometimes I’m caught at the grocery store lifting a ten pound bag of sugar up,into my cart, and I had to have help to the front of the store and sit while they brought my cart to the front and checked me out. I nearly went to the ER. My doctors, I seen two, don’t seem to take me seriously, even though I keep telling them how severe this is and I’m really concerned. I’m sixty-seven years old. Normal weight, never smoked, but my husband did. What should I do??? I’m limited and stay home because of this.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Barbara – shortness of breath with exertion and decreased exercise tolerance (less ability to do activities) are signs you need to be evaluated for possible heart disease. Have you had a cardiovascular evaluation or testing such as EKG, echocardiogram or stress testing? If your doctor is not listening to your symptoms, you may need to get a second opinion.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Barbara – we just started a new facebook group for women with heart disease to discuss questions, diagnostic tests, condtions, treatments and heart healthy living topics – you may be interested –

  • k93

    Well if I could afford to pay my 5,600.00 deductible, I might not worry about going if I needed to. Unfortunately, the cost of the bill would probably make me have a heart attack if I didn’t already have one. I work for a medical insurance company. A typical ER visit with diagnostic testing such as an EKG would run you maybe about $5,000.00.. And that’s on the low end. If you are lucky enough to have a copay plan now days, enjoy it. It’s soon to be a thing of the past due to the effects of our wonderful Obamacare.

    • fiddlecub

      That doesn’t make sense. My Kaiser Permanente plan via Covered California (CA’s “Obamacare” system) is excellent, and is all co-pay with no deductible. I am sure as an insurance employee that you have been conditioned to hate Obamacare, but I am grateful to have access to affordable insurance when my employment doesn’t offer it.

      Perhaps you might want to think about how the insurance companies themselves drive up the rates on medical tests and consultation, a widely recognized issue that has increased our health care costs by orders of magnitude. Your own employer is complicit in these outrageous costs–and as en employee, so are you. (Yes, I am sure your response will be an Obama rant. But I will hope you will truly consider how your own employer, and the insurance industry in general, holds great blame in the rising costs of health care.)

  • Janet

    Yes people need to recognize these vague symptoms but doctors need to recognize them also. Especially if the patient is a woman and young. When I was 32, I had a heart attack. The symptoms were only a cold sweat and nausea and a feeling like I couldn’t catch my breath. My brother rushed me to emergency where I was told I was having an anxiety attack, given a shot of Visteril and sent home! So doctors BE AWARE !

  • Buckeyelin

    I had shortness of breath. It persisted so I had a stress test which luckily was normal. It turned out my thyroid was bad. It was removed and I had the same symptoms until the replacement thyroid meds kicked in. I wish someone could have picked up on this and saved me anxiety and time. All within the Cleve Clinic system. How was I supposed to know it was a symptom of hypothyroidism. PLUS Hasimoto thyroid disease is in my records. The doctors should know this symptom. I am not a medical professional.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Symptoms of hyopthyroid are listed at They can be rather general and be the same symptoms as many other conditions. Sounds like your doctors were ruling out more serious causes of shortness of breath such as cardiac and other more common causes first. Glad you are feeling better. betsyRN

  • Coleycow

    I’m 15 years old and suffering from anxiety bouts. A similar event occurred last year, and we found it was linked to P.A.N.D.A.S, yet I wasn’t given a sure fire plan as how to take care of my heart. I want to get better but my anxiety keeps getting the best of me. I’d like some help taking care of my body.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Coleycow – you sound like you do need to talk to your doctor about an all around plan of exercise, diet, relaxation and support. If you are in the Cleveland area – we do have programs such as that through the Cleveland Clinic – your doctor should know about programs like that near you? good luck. betsyRN

  • Chiqueta

    Have any of you that have experienced these symptoms (especially the fatigue) been put on medication, even if you haven’t been diagnosed with a problem?
    I am very overweight and have attributed my increasing fatigue to weight gain, however it seemed to get much worse in a very short space of time. In the past I have gone to the Dr. And ER several times for chest pain. All tests came back negative. I did have an irregular EKG for which they did a heart cath (my insurance wouldn’t cover the nuclear stress test) and that was normal. This was in 2009.
    Fast forward to recently, I get winded just walking to the bathroom. This is sometimes accompanied by pain in my neck and or chest pain. I sometimes have an upset stomach and gas afterwards. It doesn’t help that I have really bad gerd also. I went to see my cardiologist and he prescribed me nitro and just ordered some lab test.
    I took the nitro a few times but the last time I took it my heart started racing soon afterwards. I ended up calling 911 because I was convinced that I was having a heart attack. my heart rate had decreased by the time they got there. They hooked me up to a 12 lead and it was normal. I didn’t go to the hospital at that moment but ended up going to the emergency room later on because I as still kinda worried. They took blood and those tests came back normal.
    In the meantime I continued to work and go about my life as normal but the fatigue and pain was really stressing me out. My cardiologist didn’t seem to want to schedule another appointment with me and all I could do was talk to his nurse. He did end up scheduling me for a stress test that would take place a month later. I honestly felt like I could be dead by that time.
    I ended up going to the emergency room after work because I had a particularly bad day that day. They ran the standard tests which came back normal. They asked if I wanted to be admitted for further tests. I agreed because I really needed to speak with a cardiologist. They admitted me and I had an ultrasound the next day. This was normal so the cardiologist did a heart cath. This was also normal.
    My primary physician prescribed me propranolol and my cardiologist prescribed me amlodipine. These seems to help a bit with me being able to do more without getting winded so fast.
    This takes me back to my original question: if nothing is wrong with my heart, what is the medication for?
    I have been researching and learned about mvd. You can have blockages in the small arteries that lead to your heart without having blockages in your main arteries. From what I read, this cannot be diagnosed with a standard heart cath. Is this true? I Have shoulder pain which I cannot account for. I also have jaw/teeth pain but admittedly that could be due to tension as this whole business has me very stressed. I did mention the MVD in my follow up appointment with the cardiologist from the ER. He says that he would schedule me for an ultrasound. I had an ultrasound when they admitted me. Are there different types of ultrasounds for your heart? Also, can an ultrasound determine MVD? I was under the impression that it could not.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Chiqueta – are you saying MVD as in Mitral Valve Disease? That would be evident if you had an echocardiogram (ultrasound of your heart). there are other causes of chest pain – – and shortness of breath. If all your heart tests are coming back normal – it may be time to go to your internist to investigate other causes. Talk to your doctor about possible causes and the next steps. betsyRN

  • Nancy Sciarrino

    Yes I know that go to hospital they ack like we faking that y people don’t do anything about it or if they know you something else is wrong and you have symptoms of heart attack they say it the other disease which it a heart problems

  • ellie

    Geez, I have been having more heartburn attacks in the past few weeks, I do have GERD and take meds and watch what I eat, guess I best find a better. PCP one that mists blows my symptoms and wants to farm you out to others and not do any tests at her office.

  • DeAnn Laube Payne

    I don’t really talk about my heart attack, not because I can’t but because I moved on and my heart disease doesn’t define me! However, since February is Women’s Heart Disease month and it is the number one killer of women, I thought I should pass on some of my symptoms prior to my heart attack, March 16, 2012. I was 40 when I started having problems and there was no heart disease in my immediate family. I was not overweight, normal blood pressure, high cholesterol and was a smoker. My symptoms were overlooked and dismissed by all the doctors I saw from local, to Richmond, to a week at the Mayo Clinic. I was dismissed because I was a female and only 40/41. My blood work was a complete mess and my other body systems were also effected. Yet, my body was screaming the warnings! Some main symptoms-
    Swelling in my feet and ankles 6+ months prior
    Fatigue like no other
    Out of breath
    Periods of bad “indigestion ”
    Blood pressure got a little high

    Night of heart attack- I had pain in my upper back, slight numbness/tingling down the back of both my arms, slight pain down right side of my jaw, and most horrible “indigestion/reflux” in the center of my chest. I laid with my hand on my chest from 1-7am and I never slept because of the pain. After I slept 3 hrs, I woke up and felt like I had the flu. I just didn’t feel well. I was lucky to survive because when I went to the hospital, 4 days later, and they were finally able to perform a heart catheterization, they found a 100% blockage, about 3″ long in my Right Coronary Artery and placed to heart stents. I never in a million years thought it was my heart! Why would I after none of the doctors I saw, thought so?! I only knew something was wrong! To all of my female friends, follow your gut not your head, when it comes to your body! And no matter what excuse you tell yourself if you think something is wrong, call 911! What’s the worse that can happen??? You save your own life! Stay healthy and get healthy!

  • Lydia Flynn

    5 years andI hcounting with heart issues. Stated with chest pain when I was exercising.Every test said i was fine. One dr said it was acid reflux. After 6 months of no improvement i went to a cacardiologist. After 6 different test they found a blockage in the LAD 80% blocked, put in a stent. I felt so much better. However, since then continued chest pain came back. I have seen Dr. Heupler at Cleveland. To see of he could determine why I was still having chest pain. He said I could not have artery spasms. My symptoms do not match his years of study. Did a heart cath and before he could add his fancy meds to diagnosis it, it happened. Spasms in my main artery. Something he says he has only seen 4 cases.
    Since then I have been to the Barbra Streisand Heart Clinic to see Dr Bairy-Mertz they only study women with heart issues. Boston Heart Clinic to see Dr Hutter and sent records to Houston Heart Clinic. All the meds and suggestions have not created any improvement in the chest pain.
    Today I no longer work and had to stop. Chronic Angina, shortness of breath, fatigue, arm and back pain . If my body thinks I have done to much I will sleep 15 or more hours a day. I do sleep a lot. I do not have high cholesterol or high blood pressure but I take meds for it, all my heart meds, verapamil, effient, amlodipine, asprin, zocor, omega 3. Presently I started having fainting spells. Tilt table test was positive with a noted trigeminy noted on the EKG when I passed out. I am lost in a world I do not understand. Before now I was in fantastic health never smoked active with kids and family. Now I can not do much with out issues. I go to the ER often, my frequent punch card is all full. Plus they can not help. I have burned out 4 Cardiologist. What they all can say is I have Coronary Artery Spasms with Ventricular Tachycardia in my main artery with Heart Block 1. I have Heart Desease due to the blockage of fat they found in the LAD. Any suggestions on how to manage or when to stop looking for a better plan. How will I know if I am having a real heart attack. Are there others with this strange mix and how do they manage. I know this is a lot. Any suggestions would be great.


    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Lydia – I have a couple suggestions. 1. is to perhaps have a consult with Dr. Heupler or Dr. Cho at Cleveland Clinic – they have much experience in coronary spasm. 2. would be to check out our Functional Medicine department – they are working with patients such as you who have difficult cases – and it may be another approach – they will work with your cardiologist to find a treatment plan:

  • Alec Theora

    Work a brutally long day, get home late, eat way too much before bed (and some maybe questionable frozen soup). Sleep in an uncomfortable chair, then wake up with a belly ache and a sore upper back. Took Tums. I don’t even have a primary care doctor as yet since getting new Obamacare that didn’t include my old one. I have to work tonight and can’t call off. Gotta pay the bills. It takes so long to set up an appointment and get to a doctor, the helpful but useless advice to “go see your doctor” is an unreal task for many of us. If you’re feeling uncomfortable you can’t just pop in to the doctor and/or can’t sit all day at an emergency center (not to mention the high coinsurance payments for that kind of visit). The symptoms seem so vague that most will just ride it out and treat them, and wait and see.

  • Johnny Lee Laycock

    Ok here is a question. Several weeks ago I was at work as a dish washer at an extremely busy restaurant. It was a Sunday, our busiest day ever and most unforgiving and punishing for dishwashers. Two hours from close i had an extremely strong sharp pain spread from the left side of my chest and work its way to my right side by my shoulder the pain had even caused me to stop working and nearly sit. I felt extremely fatigued more than usual and thought maybe i was burning out from working. My chest felt tight but my hands never felt numb. Was this a “silent” heart attack?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Johnny it is difficult to say. It is possible or it could have been caused by other things. Your doctor can tell if you did have a heart attack through an EKG. You should follow up with your doctor, This is especially true if you are having continued symptoms. betsyRN

  • Miss Skeletor


    I am a 33yo female. About 3 weeks ago, I was starting to feel new symptoms: heavy feeling/pressure deep in the middle of my chest and left upper chest, pain in the left side of my neck, mild left upper arm weakness and numbness, mild numbness on the L side of my face. I also felt intense hot feeling, sweating, and mild dizziness and nausea. I noticed these symptoms would occur about 30mins after I ate a fattening meal, they would remain for about 2-3 hours, then eventually taper off. I was feeling slightly more fatigued than usual for about a week, but not severely so – I started working out 7 weeks ago and was able to continue working out 4days a week, I was just a little tired. During workouts I would feel the chest heaviness, L neck discomfort, L facial numbness pretty intensely for the first few minutes of working out, then it seemed to get better. I do cardio workouts and keep my HR between 135-145.

    This past Monday I felt my symptoms return, not as bad as initially (I had been eating fattening meals on Sunday), but I decided to go to ER. My EKG was showing a flattened T wave. Drs initially told me they think it’s my gallbladder, so I had a gallbladder ultrasound which was negative for gallstones, they just found a fatty liver. The admitted me overnight for telemetry monitoring. The nurses were saying my tele was showing normal sinus, but my sister is a RN who works on a cardiac floor and has years of experience with tele. I hate to contradict what another health care professional states, but my sister stated in her opinion tele was showing ST depression. My troponins were drawn twice and were negative. I had an exercise stress test the next morning. I was unable to meet the expectations for someone my age, but test results came back negative, so they diagnosed me with GERD (I have had reflux in the past and have not been experiencing any overt reflux symptoms throughout this), prescribed me protonix and sucralose, and discharged me home.

    My BPs were running about 135/95, total cholesterol 184, HDL 30, LDL 132. My hgb a1c was 5.5. All electrolytes were normal, no infections.

    Also, I noticed the distance vision in my L eye seems to have gotten worse. Maybe this has been ongoing, but I never noticed it until Monday. I repeatedly asked what my neck pain/eye symptoms could possibly be due to. Neck and eyes were never examined and I was repeatedly told basically they don’t know what those symptoms could be.

    Today is my first day home. I still feel mild but persistent chest heaviness, L neck discomfort, and mild L facial numbness. I went to the gym today, was able to do my normal workout, but I did feel a mild increase in my symptoms for the first few minutes, just like I had been for the last couple of weeks, and it settled down to the “baseline” of what I have been normally feeling for the last few weeks during the remainder of the workout.

    I have an appointment with a cardiologist next week. I am concerned because I feel my symptoms could be some sort of cardiac event, but I don’t feel like I am being taken seriously due to my age and no genetic or familial risks (even though I do have lifestyle risks… obese, elevated bp, ldl high, HDL low, was eating high fat unhealthy diet with lots of dairy and meat, former smoker). I know all of the testing in the hospital was not concerning to them, but I really feel that what could have happened is that I had some sort of damage to my heart that may have initially occurred a few weeks ago. If that is the case, I would like to know what the extent of the damage was, am I in any sort of immediate danger or risk for further events, and what needs to be done going forward.

    Sorry for the long post, but If there is any input you may provide, I would sincerely appreciate it. Thanks.

    • Joseph Andrew Staedelin

      What came of this? I’m having very similar symptoms and I’ve been to the E.R. twice in the last few weeks, told everything looks good and diagnosed first with muscle cramps and then with GERD. I have an appointment with my doctor in a few days to look at this further, but since your symptoms are so incredibly similar to mine and since they are so unusual… can you tell me how this turned out? Thanks.

      • The_Beating_Edge_Team

        Joseph – it is very good that you are going to see your doctor. Many patients do not follow up with their doctor after a visit to the emergency room. The emergency room is looking for urgent issues and there are times when things need to be evaluated and ruled out in a systematic way. And – there are times when a second opinion is necessary for a second set of eyes. – betsyRN

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Miss Skeletor – sorry I did not see this – I do not get a chance to see every post that comes through. Hopefully your cardiologist provided answers for you. If you want a second set of eyes or a second opinion, we are happy to help – either in person or through our MyConsult second opinion service. there are times when you may need to get another opinion. In addition, you may benefit from a Preventive Cardiology Clinic – one that would look at your total heart profile and careate a treatment plan that would decrease your risk of future cardiac events. Let us know if we can help. betsyRN

  • chasitie

    I been having random chest pains on the left side and it feels heavy and just tight but its sharp and pain gets worse when I breathe in but than it goes away. its been happening for I think two weeks now >.<

  • Courtney

    I’ve been having chest pain for a few days down it feels right and uncomfortable I have a doctors appointment tomorrow but I’m scared it could be something serious? Does anyone have any clues to why I’ve been having this pain?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      You don’t mention your age or other risk factors for heart disease – If there is no obvious cause for the pain, it doesn’t resolve itself in 15 minutes or so, is associated with fainting, lightheadedness, or an irregular heart beat, or you have a family history of heart disease, you should consider visiting the emergency room mmediately. betsyRN

  • Tammy

    My Cardiologist tells me that I have had a heart attack, according to my EKGs. But the ER Dr in my hometown says I have not and my Ins Co does not want to pay on the heart attack claim… I am in total confusion as to what is going on with my heart now. My heart Cath and Echo were normal. But I’m not sure if I should be concerned or not. The Cardiologist gave me Nitroglycerin to keep with me. I feel better knowing I have that…

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Talk to your doctor about what he saw that concerned him. If your cath and echo were normal, then it may mean that you do not have sustained damage or that significant blockage is not showing on your tests. However, it is important to find out what your cardiologist is thinking; minimize risk factors you have to prevent further disease; and seek help if you have symptoms.

  • Shirley

    There’s more.
    Last July 30th, I didn’t feel well. My stomach was acting up a bit, and I was tired. I was sure my stomach issues were caused by the fact I hadn’t eaten anything all day. So I fixed a sandwich and ate. I wanted to take a nap so bad, my husband said no and started talking to me about how I was feeling, my jaw and then the whole side of my face started hurting, then a headache hit hard, still feeling sick to my stomach I told him I just want to take a nap!! He said no and called 911. Right before the EMTs got to our home my left arm suddenly felt like it swelling and there was tremendous pressure. Before I knew it I was in an ambulance on my way to the hospital. They were trying to keep me awake, still I just wanted to sleep. Once inside the er, people were yelling at me and they kept asking me questions. They asked if there was anyone I wanted them to call. I gave them the information. They asked me if there was anything I wanted to tell them. I said yes, tell therm that everything is alright. The nurse looked a bit shocked and asked if I was sure I wanted her to tell them that. I said “yes, just tell them everything is alright”. The next thing I knew I was waking up after surgery in a hospital room to find my whole family sitting there waiting for me. I had, had a heart attack and was literally slipping away. Later, the nurse that took my message for my family told me that when she called my husband, it suddenly struck her what I was actually saying. “I don’t want to go yet, but it’s alright, everything is alright. I’m not suffering, it’s peaceful”
    From this I hope that someone, anyone, learns that it doesn’t matter what it sounds like, how it feels or doesn’t feel, if it’s not right, it’s not right, don’t wait. Get help, even if you have to demand that they perform an ekg right then and there. I’m so fortunate to have a dr and hospital that actually listen. They ask a million questions trying to understand and learn how to know when women are having a heart attack and what symptoms we have. I hope this helps someone else.

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Thank you Shirley for sharing your story! Hope others hear you and follow their gut to get help when they feel something is just not right. It is better to be safe and get checked out than be sorry later. betsyRN

  • bill

    I recently was a i the hospital for a night and a full day because of what i thought was a heart attack. All my texts came back good Except that my potassium and magnesium levels were low. They brought them up and sent me home. Since i have been home I have had a strange feeling in my chest. It is not squeezing or really tightness but like i can feel my heart (not the beat) it is uncomfortable and disturbing. What can this be and what do i do. They did the ekg and electrocardiogram and stress test. All good.

  • renne

    I have a pacemaker. tonite i had a bad almost like electric shh. shock on the left back side of my body. could i have a short with my pacemaker and it still hurts. please advise. rh from vero

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Renne – you need to contact the doctor’s office who put in your pacemaker. If you had it done at Cleveland Clinic, feel free to contact our nurses at and we will try to facilitate that for you. He may need to evaluate the pacemaker. betsyRN

  • Colton

    If I was to throw up, then as I went to stand up and flush the toilet, then collapse onto my face..lay there feeling super weak and finally after about 15 to 20 mins get up and have chest pain…and my throat hurts and I hVe a migraine…could this be a heart attack or minor heart attack…I am only 23 years old

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      Syncope is another name that is related to passing out or feeling faint – – there are different types of syncope – you will learn more if you read this link. Please follow up with your doctor if you are having symptoms.

  • Deb

    I had the worst pain down the middle of my chest last night. It lasted for 45-60mins. I didn’t go into the ER. Was figuring it was heartburn, although, have never ever had heartburn. Should I schedule an appointment with a heart doctor now?

  • GreeneWolfe

    I didn’t ignore the symptoms. now I owe a hospital bill of 1000 dollars…and yes, I work fullt ime and have insurance.

  • Adam

    I dont know what the purpose is telling people what the signs are. If you are not in the high risk categories and your tests are “normal” your dismissed as a hyperchondriac. I wish drs would treat weary patients as if their could be a serious problem rather than a calculated decision based off statistics. Your juggling someones life. Yes its another # to you in the big picture but that person and there small circle care for that life. Treat, dont assume

  • Linda K Doty

    Im sure I had a mild heart attack a few nights ago..I have diagnosed heart valve leakage. (metrial and aortic) My question is…now that the event is passed and I feel ok, should I contact my cardiologist? Is there anything to be done after the fact?

    • The_Beating_Edge_Team

      there are many causes for chest pain – if you had an episode that you truly felt was a heart attack – you should contact your doctor. He can evaluate you to see if it left any damage to the heart muscle, determine if you need to be on certain medications and determine if there is a need for additional treatment. betsyRN

  • delilah

    All my symptoms of extreme fatigue and if I exercise mildly for even 15 minutes I sleep for like an hour and I’m an insomniac!
    This all started approximately 2 1/2 months ago when I went cold turkey off of small doses of Clonopin and MS Contin

    • Mark Snow

      Mine started 2 1/2 years ago when I got off those things.

      I’m 30 and was told today I had a heart attack… Now my mission is to see if I’ve advanced enough to not worry needlessly about it.

  • Michael Miller

    Hi last night I was sleeping and I was woke up with numbness in my left hand and I could feel the numbness going up my arm into my left side of my face n as soon that happen I lost my breath n it felt like my body just stopped n about 30 to 45 sec It felt like my body restated n I could start to breath with very short ones it took like 45 breath to get it back n I felt like I was dieing that I was fine all day now I don’t feel like my self n I went to the DR n the did a ekg n came back ok he said he to me I have a summer flu that I ask the DR why I stop breathing he didn’t know but u got summer flu please help me what should I do

  • Nicole Lusher

    I’m 31 yrs old, yesterday while laying on the couch watching tv. I wasn’t under any kind of stress or anything when I started to have severe chest pain and tightness in my chest that’s started in my right side under my breast. I also was in a cold sweat, my mom suggested that I take some BC(powdered aspirin). So I did and it seemed to take the pain away, just felt really tired and fatigued the rest of the day( I didn’t go to ER). Besides small faint pain once in awhile in my chest I have no more pain today but still tired and fatigued. Could that be a heart attack and should i still go to doctors?
    I’m pretty healthy, 5,6″ 165lbs

  • lydia

    I was treated at nazareth hospital in phila and all staff worked very thoroughly and fast for me with symptoms of a heart attack no complaints thank u

  • Debora Laudicina

    I had what I thought to be an extreme ear ache and jaw ache or tooth ache, not knowing that it really was heart attacks, when I came back to Michigan I went to the doctor here and then a cardiologist, and 3/4 of my heart was dead! I am a living miracle of the modern technologies of heart repair! I had a quadruple by-pass July 5, 2011, and then after almost a year a 2nd open heart on June 20, 2012 because of an aneurysm of the heart stem…which was cleaned up and left alone, because my body had healed itself…Thanks to my cardiologist Dr. Chambers, and my thoracic surgeon, Dr, Arcidi, I am a living miracle and I thank the good Lord above for their talents!