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Understanding Silent Heart Attacks

Written and reviewed by
FSCAI (Int Card), FACC (Card), FACP (Int Medicine), MBBS
Cardiologist, New Delhi  •  25 years experience
Understanding Silent Heart Attacks

A heart attack does not always have obvious symptoms, such as pain in your chest, shortness of breath and cold sweats. In fact, a heart attack can actually happen without a person knowing it. This condition is known as a ‘silent heart attack’, medically known as ‘silent ischemia’, occurring due to the shortage of oxygen supply to the heart muscle.

The causes of a silent heart attack are similar to that of a heart attack. They include-

  1. Obesity or excess weight

  2. Lack of exercise

  3. Disorders such as diabetes

  4. High blood pressure

  5. High cholesterol

  6. Age, usually above 65

  7. Heart diseases

  8. Consumption of tobacco or smoking

A silent cardiac arrest makes one more vulnerable to another heart attack that could be fatal.


The only method to diagnose if you had a silent heart attack is through imaging tests, such as echocardiogram, electrocardiogram or others. These tests can show certain changes which might be indicative of a heart attack.

An analysis of one’s overall health and the symptoms can aid in deciding whether few more tests are required.

How would you prevent a silent heart attack?

  1. Get your cholesterol and blood pressure count tested regularly.

  2. Refrain from smoking.

  3. Be aware of your body and call on a doctor if you feel there’s anything which is bothering you. If you wish to discuss about any specific problem, you can consult a doctor and ask a free question.
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