As far as scary medical things go, a heart attack is right up there with cancer and dementia. But unlike the second two, a heart attack sounds way more alarming. An attack? What’s with the scary name?
Two reasons, we think. First, the medical term for a heart attack is a myocardial infarction. Say it out loud. It doesn’t matter how serious of a person you are, funny is funny—and infarction is a giggle-inducing word.
And second, the symptoms of a heart attack sometimes don’t seem like a big deal at first. We’ve all watched scenes of someone clutching their chest and left arm, but for many people (especially women), it can start slowly and seem more like coming down with the flu than an emergency. Take a look at this short film Elizabeth Banks put together for the American Heart Association, and you’ll see what I mean.
If a heart attack, in its early stages, can feel like a hot flash, the flu or even a panic attack, maybe it needs a scary name to make sure we’re thinking about it.