Dr. Dean Ornish answered:
There is an emerging field of research in cardiology called silent ischemia. Ischemia ("is- kee-mee-ah") is medical j argon for reduced blood flow to the heart. Cardiologists used to believe that chest pain (angina) occurred whenever the heart did not receive enough blood flow. Recent studies have conclusively demonstrated that many people have profound reductions in blood flow to their hearts, yet they don't have any chest pain or other symptoms. Sometimes people even have heart attacks without any symptoms at all.
During the past few years, this syndrome has been well documented, although it is unclear why some people experience chest pain whereas others do not. Recent studies have demonstrated that people with silent ischemia tend to experience all forms of pain (and pleasure) less intensely than other people, even though their nervous system and levels of naturally produced painkillers (endorphins) are no different. For example, a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology by Dr. C. Falcone and others reported that 71.2 percent of people with silent ischemia did not experience dental pain, even with intense stimulation, whereas 69.7 percent of people with angina complained of dental pain with only low stimulation.
In my work with heart patients, I have noticed that people who have silent ischemia often have a significant dissociation between their feelings and experiences or between their thoughts and feelings. In other words, their feelings are often walled off-not only from other people but even from themselves. If you ask them what they are feeling, usually they will tell you what they are thinking. (The importance of being able to distinguish thoughts from feelings is discussed more fully in chapter 8 of the book Dean Ornish’s Program for Reversing Heart Disease.)Find out more about this book: Dr. Dean Ornish's Program for Reversing Heart Disease: The Only System Scie...There is an emerging field of research in cardiology called silent ischemia. Ischemia ("is- kee-mee-ah") is medical j argon for reduced blood flow to the heart. Cardiologists used to believe that chest pain (angina) occurred whenever the heart did... More