Silent Heart Attack or a Simple Cold?

Often times, heart attacks can easily be confused with a simple cold. Nonetheless, this doesn’t make them any less dangerous, unfortunately. The classical symptoms, such as chest pain, cold sweat and weakness are known amongst most people, but there are several subtle signs that can be misinterpreted, thus postponing a specialist consultation.

A heart attack can occur even in the absence of chest pain. Heart failure and heart disease generally do not show the same signs all over the world, especially in women.

The heart is a muscle that contracts to pump blood throughout the body. A heart attack (myocardial infarction) occurs when the cardiac muscle does not get enough blood.

The blood carries oxygen and nutrients to the cardiac muscle. When the blood flow is not enough for the heart muscle, the affected part can be damaged. This is dangerous and can be fatal.

Infarctions occur suddenly, but usually reside in old, untreated heart diseases. The plaque formed over time on the walls of the blood vessels may detach, aggravating the passage of blood to the heart muscle, leading to a heart attack.

Risk Factors

The most common risk factors that could lead to a potential heart attack include:

  • Age
  • High blood pressure;
  • High cholesterol
  • Obesity
  • An unhealthy diet
  • Excessive alcohol consumption
  • Stress
  • Lack of physical activity


A heart attack can occur without giving too many visible signs, and sometimes its symptoms can be confused with those of a much less risky condition, such as a simple cold or a flu. However, it is important that we all pay close attention to the signals our body gives, so that we can discover potential signals that may signal an infarction.

Chest pain, pressure and discomfort. Most people who suffer from a heart attack complain of chest pain or discomfort. These, however, do not appear in any heart attack. Patients describe heart attack as a huge chest pressure as a heavy weight. Others, in turn, describe the pain as a claw that tightens their chest.

The discomfort, which can disappear after a few minutes, is a sign that the heart does not get enough oxygen. The pain can radiate to the left arm, but it can also occur in the upper abdomen, shoulder, back, neck or jaw.

Heavily sweating. Sweating more than usual, especially in the absence of intense physical activity, may be a sign of early warning of heart problems.

Pumping blood through clogged arteries requires more effort for the heart muscle, so the body sweats more in an attempt to keep body temperature low during this extra effort. Cold sweat can be easily confused with the symptoms of a cold, thus being ignored.

Fatigue. This is another symptom that is harder to recognize in the case of a heart attack, as it is also considered a form of flu influenza. A heart attack can cause exhaustion as a result of the additional stress the heart muscle is subjected to.

Difficulty breathing. The heart pumps the blood so that it can circulate in the tissues, but also to become oxygenated. If the heart can not pump blood well, as it happens in the event of a heart attack, the patient may have difficulty breathing, another symptom easily confused with that of a cold.

Dizziness. Headache and dizziness can be felt in the case of a heart attack, especially in women.

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