The Hollywood action man, who is now separated from his partner Maria Shriver, has revealed he travelled to Mexico in 1997 to undergo open heart surgery and he planned to keep it from his wife by pretending he was on holiday.
He made the revelation in his new book, Total Recall - My Unbelievably True Life Story, and opened up about his desire for secrecy during a recent interview on U.S. news show 60 Minutes, saying, "(My doctor) said, 'Your wife is pregnant, what do you mean you are not going to tell her?'... I told him,: 'Here is the plan, I am going to have the heart surgery, you do it quietly, no one knows about it, we do it at six in the morning. Four days later I am out of here and I go to Mexico and I will tell Maria I am down here, a little busy and I am on vacation, when I come back I'll be tanned and no one will know.'"
Schwarzenegger now reveals he just didn't want to admit his health crisis news to anyone.
He tells British TV host Graham Norton, "It was totally crazy but I live in denial a lot of the time and if I put it away I don't have to deal with it and it doesn't exist. Having to have heart surgery was such a shock and I didn't want to talk about it.
"If I had told my wife she would want to talk about it every day, her mother would want to talk about and then Uncle Teddy would want to talk about it and I didn't want to talk about it all."
However, The Terminator star eventually had to tell Shriver about the operation after his doctor warned him he would be left with a noticeable scar.
He adds, "I had a plan to have it done and then tell my wife I was on a business trip, until the surgeon said, 'I am opening up your chest, you will have a huge scar and it's impossible to hide something like that' and I said, 'Ah yes, maybe you're right.' So I told her."
The Graham Norton Show interview will air in the U.K. on Friday (19Oct12).