When heart attacks strike without chest pain

Most people think they know the classic signs of a heart problem: a sudden pain in the chest and in some cases right up the arm.

And that's true... some of the time.

But more than a third of the time, heart patients feel no chest pain at all, even during a heart attack -- and new research shows that heart attacks in women are different are more likely to occur without this classic telltale symptom.

In fact, heart symptoms in women are up to 50 percent less likely to involve chest pain during acute coronary syndrome than men, according to a new study of roughly 1,000 heart patients.

Acute coronary syndrome is when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked, and includes everything from angina to an actual heart attack. And while it's perfectly understandable that many patients may not recognize the warning signs right away, it's practically unforgivable that many doctors don't as well.

But they don't.

As a result, patients without chest pain -- especially women -- are often told nothing's wrong. They're told to go home and rest, that maybe it's just gas. And they're told not to worry -- when, in fact, they have every reason to worry, because the absence of chest pain doesn't mean the heart attack is less severe.

You could experience "the big one" -- a heart attack so massive your life is on the line -- with no chest pain at all, according to the study of heart attack symptoms in women.

While the new study focused on heart attack symptoms in women under the age of 55, it's a fact that even older women can experience heart attack and other heart problems without the expected chest pain.

But since many doctors still don't understand this, it's essential that you do -- that you learn the warning signs yourself, so you can insist on getting the care you need when you need it most.

After chest pain, the most common warning signs include shortness of breath, cold sweats, feeling hot, sudden weakness and pain down the left arm or in the left shoulder.

Remember, surviving that initial heart problem isn't the end of the battle -- it's the start of a war, one where your life is on the line every day.

Once you're out of the hospital, begin work on a natural regimen to strengthen your heart -- including changes to your diet and in some cases the addition of heart-friendly supplements.

I recommend working with a holistic medical doctor.