Unrecognized Heart Attacks Tied to Higher Pain Tolerance

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Unrecognized Heart Attacks Tied to Higher Pain Tolerance
Unrecognized Heart Attacks Tied to Higher Pain Tolerance

TUESDAY, Dec. 27, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- Patients who experience unrecognized myocardial infarction (MI) have reduced pain sensitivity compared to those who experience recognized MI, according to a study published online Dec. 21 in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

Andrea Milde Øhrn, M.D., from the University of Tromsø in Norway, and colleagues examined the association between pain sensitivity and recognition of MI in 4,849 participants who underwent the cold pressor test (a common experimental pain assay) and electrocardiogram.

Unrecognized MI was present in 387 participants (8 percent) and recognized MI in 4.7 percent. The researchers found that, compared to participants with recognized MI, participants with unrecognized MI endured the cold pressor test significantly longer (hazard ratio for aborting the cold pressor test, 0.64, when adjusting for age and sex). The association between unrecognized MI and lower pain sensitivity was stronger in women compared to men.

"Our findings suggest that persons who experience unrecognized MI have reduced pain sensitivity compared with persons who experience recognized MI," the authors write. "This may partially explain the lack of symptoms associated with unrecognized MI."

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