Nearly half of all heart attacks go undetected by the person having them, according to new research from the American Heart Association. Even more worrisome: These so-called silent heart attacks are "as bad as" any other heart attack. NBC News reports people having silent heart attacks often think it's the flu, a strained muscle, or indigestion. They can also write one off as a sore jaw, according to CNN. These symptoms are far more subtle than the chest pain or shortness of breath more commonly seen as signs of a heart attack. But people who have a silent heart attack are still more likely—by about three times—to die from heart disease, according to the new research.
In the study published Monday in Circulation, researchers looked at the records of nearly 9,500 people over 26 years. They found that silent heart attacks account for 45% of all heart attacks while often going unnoticed or ignored. They are found later by EKGs. Men are more likely to suffer silent heart attacks, but they're more often fatal in women. That's because women are more likely to minimize their symptoms or have them mistaken for something else, such as diabetes. Researchers say silent heart attacks need to be treated with the same seriousness as other heart attacks. People who have one likely need to take actions like lowering their blood pressure and cholesterol, exercising more, and quitting smoking. (Loneliness and social isolation can be bad for our hearts.)