Ask the doctor: What are silent heart attacks?

Ask the doctor

What are silent heart attacks?

Published: August, 2009

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.

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