Thank you in advance for answers.
I have been told by several medical professionals that heart attacks are extremely painful – so I suppose sometimes yes, it’d be a painful death.
My grandad had a heart attack, but didn’t die (well he did, but years later from something else). At the time he said he was surprised it didn’t hurt half as much as he thought it would.
Some are certainly very painful, but if it kills you it can be a relatively quick way to die. Of course, many heart attacks are not fatal, and I read fairly recently (admittedly I think it was on Cracked.com, but who am I to doubt it) that some heart attacks are not only non-fatal, but entirely painless, so that you may have one and not know you have had it at all. For some reason, the author of the article seemed to think that this was a very bad thing, but if I have to have a heart attack, I think that is the sort I want to have.
The main issue behind this problem (“non-painful” heart attacks) is that the victims tend NOT to seek help, and thus may be more likely to die. Non-Fatal heart attacks usually imply that the patient was able to receive medical care and treatment allowing them to survive the attack, and not just had a heart attack and it went away.
That is why any usual pains such as tingling down the left arm, or pain moving up the jaw/neck from the heart should be considered suspicious, and should be checked out my a medical professional, one to ensure that there was not a major complication or current heart attack occurring, and two- to also start treatment or preventative medications to prevent FUTURE heart attacks from occurring.
Those at risk for having “less painful” heart attacks tend to be women and diabetics, where nerve neuropathy can decrease the painful sensations of chest pain, similar to how many diabetics are less likely to have sensation in their feet and are at risks for bumps and cuts in their feet.
Painful Heart attacks are better simply because it becomes fairly obvious to the person that something is wrong, and that they need help SOONER rather than later.
Yes, it can be painful - as the heart muscle itself cries out for oxygen.
Perhaps worse, when the heart muscle doesn’t get adequate oxygen, its function can become impaired such that it is unable to pump the blood out of your lungs. You drown. Very uncomfortable from what I’ve seen.
But, sometimes, as a result of the heart muscle being starved for oxygen, it beats furiously and irregularly (ventricular tachycardia / ventricular fibrillation) or stops beating (asystole) and you die very quickly.
ETA: The oft quoted figure is that 50 percent of heart attack victims die right then and there.
In a way, it’s a warning that something is wrong with you.
I have a friend who died of a heart attack in his sleep, and his family told me that when they found him he looked very peaceful. I always wondered how a heart attack would not have caused him to wake up from sleep and feel pain enough to take away the peaceful appearance they described.
Many sudden deaths are not literally due to a heart attack (and so have no associated pain). Rather, and especially for people who die in their sleep, there has, instead, been a fatal arrhythmia (as noted in my earlier post).
What can one do to maximize one’s chances of dying like this instead of the more gruesomely horrible way? (Hopefully, without much increasing one’s chances of dying sooner rather than later, if possible.)
I’ve often wondered if people who “die peacefully in their sleep” really do that. Or do they wake up shrieking in agony in the night but there’s nobody there to hear them until the landlord finds the corpse when the rent is overdue? Is that what more often really happens when “they” say he died peacefully in his sleep? (Can death ever be painful if there’s nobody there to witness your pain?)
ETA: And yes, I’ve read that heart attacks can be maximally high on the pain scale.
My dad died in his sleep (in his early 50s) of a fatal arrhythmia, and died peacefully enough that he didn’t wake my mom. So it definitely wasn’t a screaming or thrashing kind of an end. In fact, she woke up that morning and went about getting ready until she became puzzled why he was sleeping in that long, as he was usually an early riser.
On the painfulness of heart attacks, I had one patient complain to me (we work in ophthalmology, so it’s not like we were overlooking anything :eek: ) that he’d pulled a pectoral muscle while working out a few days prior. At his next visit, he told me he’d seen his regular doctor and it was actually a heart attack.
I had a pt, early 40’s, who told his family he’d tweaked his lt shoulder on this new job he’d started. He had a vague discomfort for a couple of days, a reasonable explanation for it, then went down like a sack of mail at the lunch table, arrived in the ER in full arrest and we couldn’t get him back. You could get pretty safe money down on that having been a survivable event if we’d seen him sooner.
A heart attack involves some kind of blockage in the tubing that impairs the blood flow. Everything downstream is deprived of oxygen. How bad it is depends on how much muscle is deprived. Unfortunately, the level of pain may correlate to the severity of the event, but it may not. Pts having a severe event can have little or no pain.
Just last month former WVU football coach Bill Stewart died of a heart attack on the golf course. The former AD was golfing with him and told the story. He said that the coach did not complain a bit about not feeling well that day.
They hit their tee shots on a par 4 and were waiting for the green to clear. They were staring at the green and talking at the same time. The coach started talking about an old football story and said, “Fisher Deberry once told me…” and trailed off. The AD next heard a thump as he crumpled to the ground. He said that there was not any twitching, breathing, struggling, nothing. White as a ghost and dead as a nail when he was on the ground.
Another member of the party immediately began CPR and it continued for 2 hours in transit to the hospital and in the hospital before they gave up. The AD swears that there was no way the coach felt any pain.
Need answer fast? :eek:
My paternal grandmother dropped dead of a heart attack on a train on her way to visit us in Texas. She was traveling from California and I think died in Arizona. The doctors may have been tring to be kind, dunno, but we were told she was dead before she hit the floor. If true, then she did not suffer very much at all. But you hear of some painful heart attacks that are long and drawn out.
After Bill went to the doctor because he felt “funny”, he learned that he had had a silent heart attack. He had a quad bypass the next day. I’ve talked to other people with heart problems and a surprising number of them had no pain at all, they just felt that something was wrong.
Had Bill not gone to the doctor, he probably would have dropped dead while doing something as exhasting as walking across the street.
Everyone is different when it comes to heart attacks. If age matters, Bill was 57 when it happened.
A while back, I had a bunch of friends over and we were smoking pot and listening to music when one of my friends started complaining that the pot was making him cough too hard and it was hurting his chest. He went home and died from his third heart attack. From what I understand, he had his second in my living room and the last one at home.
Kevin Smith (the film director… a.k.a. Silent Bob) was on Joe Rogan’s podcast talking about his father’s death from a heart attack. He “died screaming” and it affects Kevin to this day that his dad died in agony.
Eat your vegetables, kids.
Is it possible to die of a heart attack “before you hit the floor”? Even cardiac arrest doesn’t kill that fast.
It’s not possible to ask everybody who dies from a heart attack, but from many events, such as Bill Stewart’s death related by jtgain, it appears that a preceding build-up of pain is not necessarily associated with cardiac-related death.
My father died of a heart attack. I talked to him about an hour before he died and he was in considerable pain but didn’t want to go to the hospital, even though I told him to.
I’ve had a heart attack, not something I like to talk about but I will.
I had no pain at all. For a few days before I went to the doctor I was hot and sweaty at the least exertion. Off and on I had tingling in my left arm and the left side of my neck felt stiff. Then I had shortness of breath and felt achy all over. I went to the doctor thinking I had the flu or walking pneumonia.
Very mild though, I went into the hospital on Tuesday, had an angioplasty on Wednesday, came home Saturday and was back to work on Tuesday with my only restrictions being no driving, no lifting, avoid stairs and no walking dogs.
The angioplasty was way worse than the heart attack.
You’re flat on your back on a narrow table, you body gets pumped full of blood thinner, then they cut into an artery and thread a wire through from your groin to your heart. The blood thinner burns like hell through your veins. You have to be awake to answer any questions.
After the procedure is over you can’t move for another 8 hours, flat on your back, because any movement can rupture the incision and you can bleed to death. After 6 hours the nurse finally let me bend one leg and shift a little to one side because I was in tears, every muscle in my back, shoulders, neck and legs was cramped.
I never had chest pain, or pain in my left arm, neck or jaw.