Friday, June 7, 2024

Can A Panic Attack Feel Like A Heart Attack

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It Feels Like My Body Is Going At The Speed Of Light

Heart Attack or Panic Attack?

Kevin Rosko, 61, Michigan City, Ind.

Courtesy Kevin Rosko

Kevin Rosko was 10 years old when he had his first panic attack. It happened after he watched his uncle get smashed in the head with a baseball. Even though his uncle ended up being fine, Rosko couldn’t stop thinking about what he’d seen.

That night in the bathtub, his heart started racing, his body felt numb and he told his mom he couldn’t breathe.

The panic attacks continued to happen occasionally through Rosko’s childhood and adult life. He saw different therapists and tried a variety of medications, but none got his anxiety totally under control.

The attacks didn’t happen very often, so Rosko learned to live with them. The symptoms were always the same:

“My heart starts pumping like I’m running Mount Everest, he says. It feels like my body is going at the speed of light. I get pain in my arms and back, I feel dizzy, my mind is racing.

Rosko worked as a crane operator at a steel mill before retiring in 2014. If he felt an attack coming on at work, his boss was good about giving him the rest of the day off.

Rosko also helped to care for his sister, who had Down syndrome and came to live with him when he was in his 40s. After being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease five years ago, she became more difficult to care for. That’s when Rosko’s panic attacks ramped up. He began having one about every 10 days, severely impacting his quality of life.

“It relaxes me, he says. It helps me feel less antsy.

Anxiety Attack Vs Panic Attack

Most people use the terms “anxiety attack” and “panic attack” interchangeably. However, only panic attack is defined in the DSM-5 and has a list of identifiable symptoms.

As such, the term anxiety attack often refers to a less-severe episode of acute anxiety, which might, for instance, meet three or less of the symptoms above.

What Does A Panic Attack Feel Like

When you get a panic attack, you feel the same emotions your body will typically elicit when exposed to fear or danger. With a panic attack, however, you generally are not exposed to any imminent danger, and your body is over-responding to a non-dangerous situation or an event that might cause mild discomfort.

When you have a panic attack, you might feel like you are losing control of the things around you. You might become faint and, in severe cases, even feel like you are dying.

People who have had a panic attack report feeling the following symptoms:

  • Feeling intermittently cold and hot
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling numbness or tingling in some parts of the body

When having a panic attack, its important to remember that though your symptoms might seem severe, they are not deadly and will pass in a matter of minutes.

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Panic Attacks Linked To Heart Disease

A panic attack is an intense rush of fear or anxiety that can feel just like a heart attack, with chest pain, shortness of breath, sweating, nausea, lightheadedness, and a racing or pounding heart. In fact, panic attacks are a common cause of so-called noncardiac chest pain, which is routinely seen by emergency room doctors.

It turns out that shared symptoms aren’t the only connection. Researchers followed the health of 3,400 postmenopausal women for five years. The 10% or so of women who reported at least one panic attack in a six-month period before the study’s start had four times the risk of heart attack, three times the risk of stroke, and twice the risk of dying from any cause as women who didn’t have panic attacks. The absolute numbers are small: 3.9% of women who had panic attacks had a heart attack during the study, compared with 1.1% of those who didn’t. But this study and others suggest two things:

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The Role Of Genes In Anxiety Disorder

How to tell if it is a panic attack or a heart attack

Just like a major heart attack, a burn is a horrible thing, says McCann. About 33% of patients who have really severe burns develop post-traumatic stress disorder. Which makes us wonder about the 66% who do not get PTSD. We think genes are a huge part of it. Were currently researching whether this same genetic vulnerability holds true for cardiac disease.

Johns Hopkins Women’s Cardiovascular Health Center

The Johns Hopkins Womens Cardiovascular Health Center provides education, comprehensive treatment and diagnostic services to prevent and manage heart disease in women.

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The Difference Between Panic Attacks And Heart Attacks

Because the symptoms of panic attacks and heart attacks present so similarly, doctors often use the process of elimination along with their knowledge of heart conditions to discover a true diagnosis.

It is important to note is that a hidden heart problem for a person who is relatively healthy is uncommon. While it may occur in very rare cases, most individuals who are 40 and younger will not suffer a heart attack.

This means, if a person who has significant anxiety and no pre-diagnosed heart problem experiences the symptoms that match both a panic attack and a heart attack, the likelihood of it actually being a heart attack is very low.

Unfortunately, panic attacks still come with some difficult health and/or physical symptoms, which can cause people to continuously worry about an undiagnosed health condition. And while the physical effects can look similar, there are subtle ways to tell the difference between panic attacks and heart attacks.

Signs Of A Panic Attack

A panic attack is a rush of intense fear and physical discomfort that peaks within a few minutes. It is a mental health event that has the power to greatly impact a persons physical health. Although panic attacks are intense, shocking, and very scary, they rarely put the person in actual physical health danger.4

Symptoms of a panic attack include:4

  • Heart palpitations, quicker heart rate, or pounding heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Feeling detached from ones body or reality
  • A fear of losing control or going crazy
  • Thoughts of dying

Panic attacks may present at unexpected times and without a clear trigger. This aspect can make panic attacks challenging to track and to prevent.4

After panic attacks, people will begin to worry about the next one. They may also engage in a series of unhealthy coping skills in order to prevent future attacks.4 Panic attacks are frequently connected to panic disorder, but the event can occur when linked to other mental health conditions. Psychotic disorders and other anxiety disorders, like generalized anxiety disorder, phobias, and social anxiety disorder, can trigger panic attacks.4

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Can An Anxiety Attack Really Feel That Bad

During an anxiety attack, adrenaline courses through your body. Everyone experiences the result of this adrenaline differently, but some symptoms are common, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, dizziness, sweating, trembling, an upset stomach and a feeling like you might die.

Unfortunately, a panic attack has symptoms that closely resemble those of a heart attack, making it hard to tell the difference between the two, says cardiologist , who practices at the UW Medicine Regional Heart Center Cardiology Clinic.

Your body is preparing you to either fight off a threat or flee to safety, and thats serious stuff, she says.

Anxiety And The Development Of Heart Disease

Anxiety : Panic Attack Feels Like A Heart Attack #AMIquebec

Its my view and my personal clinical experience that anxiety disorders can play a major role in heart disease, says McCann. I believe that a really careful look at anxiety would reveal the ways it can severely impact heart disease, both as a contributing factor and as an obstacle in recovery.

A natural reaction to a sudden heart attack can be similar to post-traumatic stress disorder:

  • Youre likely to be shocked by your near-death experience and extremely hesitant to do the things you used to do.
  • You might constantly relive the life-threatening event, and avoid the activity or place associated with the heart attack.
  • Recurring anxious thoughts may impede your ability to get regular sleep.
  • Your thoughts about what lies ahead may be extremely negative and cause a drastically foreshortened outlook of the future.

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Get Help At Florida Medical Clinic

Excessive stress and anxiety can be damaging to your body and your heart, but it can be very difficult to tell them apart! Thats where Florida Medical Clinic comes in. If you have a heart condition, or suspect you may have one, our Cardiology Department can evaluate, diagnose, and treat many different types of heart conditions. Request an Appointment with our convenient online system today!

The Chest Pain Is Different

Although you experience chest pains with both conditions, the characteristics of the pain are different. When youre having a panic attack, the chest pain is sharp or stabbing and is often localized in the middle of the chest.

On the other hand, a heart attack resembles pressure or a squeezing sensation. This pain often starts in the middle of the chest and radiates to the jaw, shoulders, and arms.

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What To Do When You Get A Panic Attack

Getting a panic attack can be scary. When a panic attack comes on, your focus should be on calming yourself down. During a panic attack, you can follow the steps below to manage your symptoms:

  • Dont try to stop it from happening.Trying to stop your panic attack may only intensify your symptoms.
  • Bring your focus to your breathing and slow it down. Take deep, controlled breaths and count them if that helps.
  • Focus on other senses and sensations around you. You can hold on to something soft like a pillow or run your hands along something textured like a cardigan.
  • Remember that you are not in danger. During the panic attack, remind yourself that the symptoms you are experiencing are not fatal and will soon pass.

After a panic attack, you might feel ashamed or silly. But, its important to remember that panic attacks are out of your control. Prioritizing self-care after a panic attack is also essential. Self-care can take the form of a day off from work, a long bath, or journaling. If you continue to stress over it, that might only trigger another one shortly after.

Should You See Your Doctor About Panic Attacks

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A panic attack can make you feel like youre about to collapse or even die, but it’s usually harmless. However, in some cases, you may need medical advice to rule out an underlying physical cause.

Get medical advice if:

  • your panic attack continues after doing 20 minutes of slow breathing
  • you still feel unwell after your breathing returns to normal
  • you still have a rapid or irregular heartbeat or chest pains after your panic attack
  • you regularly have panic attacks, as this could be a sign that you have panic disorder

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The Anxiety Attack Experience

Panic attacks are often misunderstood because of the word “panic.” In truth, they’re filled with primarily physical symptoms. These symptoms include:

  • Rapid heartbeat.
  • Trouble getting a deep breath.
  • Weakness or tingling in the extremities.

There are mental symptoms as well, but many relate to the physical symptoms. Panic attacks often cause an intense feeling of doom, usually around these health problems – the same feeling of doom you would likely experience if you were suffering from a heart attack.

How To Cope With A Panic Attack:

Below, Wilsons tips for getting through a panic attack in the moment, no matter what is making you panic:

  • Dont fall for it! Once your MD gives you a clean bill of health, challenge those catastrophic thoughts that you are dying or having a heart attack. Label it as panic trying to scare you.
  • Its OK! Dont fight the uncomfortable physical symptoms. Your best strategy is to accept them for what they are: as a normal bodily reaction to your fearful thoughts of danger ahead!
  • Wait it out. Panic will yell, Do something! in your mind. Try the opposite. When possible, stay in the situation, quiet your racing thoughts and take some calm breaths.
  • Be proactive. Panic causes you to fear you will embarrass yourself, or make some terrible mistake. Plan how you will successfully cope with such an unlikely event. Then you wont be blackmailed by fear.
  • Keep building your courage. After an anxiety attack, your impulse will be to avoid similar situations in the future. Your best strategy is to move toward that which you fear. In general, follow this rule: be scared and do it anyway.

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Panic Attack Vs Heart Attack: Know The Signs

Panic attack symptoms include:

  • Sense of dread or danger
  • Feeling like youre losing control or might die
  • Rapid heart rate
  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that lasts only 5 to 10 seconds
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain that is localized to one small area
  • Pain after a significant stressor, anxiety or while you are resting
  • Pain that can be produced or worsened by pressing over the area of pain
  • Hot flashes
  • Unexplained anxiety
  • Heart palpitations or increased heart rate

If you experience panic attacks and have a risk for heart disease, talk to your doctor about what symptoms should immediately trigger a trip to the emergency department.

If youve never had a panic attack and youre not sure? Its better to be evaluated immediately dont explain away symptoms. Call 911 and be transported to the hospital via ambulance. That way, emergency medical responders can monitor you and provide important information to your emergency doctors. Every minute matters with a heart attack time saved is heart muscle saved.

Getting Support And Treatment For Panic Attacks

Can a panic attack cause a heart attack

Panic attacks can be incredibly frightening and cause you to worry about if and when another will happen again, causing a vicious cycle.

At Priory, we can help you to learn strategies so that you are able to better manage your panic attacks and reduce the likelihood of them happening in the future.

Cognitive behavioural therapy is an evidence based treatment available at Priory, where you learn how to identify and reframe your panic attack triggers and anxiety-inducing thought patterns.

Mindfulness sessions are also useful for learning how to identify and move past unpleasant thoughts and sensations without allowing panic to take over. During sessions at Priory, you can also receive relaxation training to understand deep breathing techniques and progressive muscle relaxation.

Exposure treatment may also be used after sessions in relaxation, cognitive reframing and mindfulness. During this time, you have the opportunity to practise the strategies you have learnt, and recognise that you can cope in challenging scenarios.

Certain medications, including selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , or other medications, may be recommended or prescribed if necessary to further support in the management of your panic attacks.

If you think you are having a medical emergency, please seek immediate support.

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Can A Chest Muscle Strain Feel Like A Heart Attack Center

Chest muscle strains can cause sudden, acute pain that feels like a heart attack. Learn the signs of a chest muscle strain, what causes it, how doctors diagnose it, and what you can do to treat it. A panic attack is an intense wave of fear accompanied by symptoms like sweating, shaking, dizziness and others. A heart attack is a blockage in blood flow to the heart. The symptoms of a heart attack and panic attack are similar, but they have different outcomes. Read more: Can a Chest Muscle Strain Feel Like a Heart Attack? Article

I Felt Like I Was Dying: The Sheer Terror Of A Panic Attack

Heart palpitations. Dizziness. Nausea. Numbness. Trouble breathing. Chest pains. An all-encompassing feeling of dread.

Heart attack? No, for many people these are the unpleasant symptoms of something much more mundane, a panic attack. They often seem to appear out of the blue. And the first time in particular, before you know whats happening, they can be terrifying.

I felt like I was dying, said a friend who told me hed experienced what he now believes were panic attacks during a period of stress several years ago. Another told me that hers manifested as heaviness in her chest combined with a sense of doom. In my case, I was one of those people terrified I was having a heart attack when I woke up in the middle of the night feeling numbness in my fingers, with my heart racing.

Panic attacks or anxiety attacks affect about 2 to 3 percent of Americans in any given year, according to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 5 percent of U.S. adults experience panic attacks at some point in their lives.

Panic attacks arent life threatening even if they can feel that way. And because they are unpredictable often happening without warning for many people worrying about future episodes can be particularly debilitating and have a significant effect on quality of life.

The suddenness of the attacks is what is so unsettling the first time.

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What Is Separation Anxiety Disorder

This condition mostly happens to children or teens, who may worry about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may fear that their parents will be hurt in some way or not come back as promised. It happens a lot in preschoolers. But older children and adults who experience a stressful event may have separation anxiety disorder as well.

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