Ask the doctor: What are silent heart attacks?

Ask the doctor

What are silent heart attacks?

Q. What are silent heart attacks? How are they different from regular ones? If they are silent, how does anyone know about them?

A. So-called silent heart attacks are episodes in which part of the heart is damaged when something blocks blood flow through a coronary artery, but the symptoms that accompany the blockage are so subtle that they go unnoticed or are ignored. Silent heart attacks are usually discovered when a person undergoes an electrocardiogram or echocardiogram for a different reason and the test shows abnormalities suggestive of damage to the heart.

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »