Scientists have discovered a tell-tale sign of heart and lung disease – the inability to show surprise in our face. US research published in Emergency Medicine Journal tested the facial expressions of 50 hospital patients who were in the process of being diagnosed and treated. Patients were scored on how much they were able to smile, frown and show surprise.
The research found that the patients who had chest pain and shortness of breath (traditional signs of heart and lung problems) also had a narrower range of facial expressions. In particular, patients who were unable to show surprise were the ones most likely to end up being diagnosed with a heart or lung problem.
While the research is still in its early stages, this discovery may help doctors in an emergency room identify and treat people with potentially life-threatening illnesses more quickly.