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Can A Panic Attack Mimic A Heart Attack

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Anxiety Or Heart Problem: Signs And Symptoms

How Anxiety Can Mimic a Heart Attack

Anxiety and heart attacks share many of the same symptoms, but in reality, they are very different conditions. Anxiety or panic attacks are the bodys natural response to a fight-or-flight situation, although the cause of one of these attacks usually isnt dangerous!

Heart attacks occur when blood is unable to flow through the hearts arteries, depriving the body of oxygen. Since one of these conditions is non-threatening while the other is very dangerous, its important to know the difference between anxiety or a heart problem. Heart problems and anxiety can happen whether or not you have a history with them. Both of them may seem very similar because many of their symptoms are identical!

Both conditions include:

  • Difficulty Breathing or Shortness of Breath
  • Intense Feeling of Doom
  • Rapid Heartbeat
  • Weak or Tingling Feeling in Limbs

Its no wonder why telling the difference between the two is difficult! The most accurate way to determine if you have anxiety or heart problems is to visit your doctor. They can determine your hearts health as well as your stress and anxiety levels.

The Role Of Genes In Anxiety Disorder

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.

The Effect Of Anxiety On The Heart

When someone is anxious, their body reacts in ways that can put an extra strain on their heart. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be especially damaging among individuals with existing cardiac disease.

Anxiety may have an association with the following heart disorders and cardiac risk factors:

  • Rapid heart rate In serious cases, can interfere with normal heart function and increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
  • Increased blood pressure If chronic, can lead to coronary disease, weakening of the heart muscle, and heart failure.
  • May result in higher incidence of death after an acute heart attack.

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What To Look For

  • Escalating chest pain that reaches maximum severity after a few minutes

  • Constant pain, pressure, fullness or aching in the chest area

  • Pain or discomfort that travels or radiates from the chest to other areas, such as one or both arms, abdomen, back, shoulders, neck, throat or jaw

  • Pain that is brought on by exertion

  • Shortness of breath

  • Sharp or stabbing chest pain that lasts only 5 to 10 seconds

  • Pain that is localized to one small area

  • Pain that usually occurs at rest

  • Pain that accompanies anxiety

What Is A Panic Attack

Panic Attack or Heart Attack?

A panic attack is a sudden and severe attack of fear and anxiety. Often, there is no obvious external trigger. Mental health charity Mind describes panic attacks as “a type of fear response”.

It’s important to remember that the physical symptoms of a panic attack do not indicate a physical problem. In fact, it’s natural for our bodies to react in this way to stress or danger. For people who have panic attacks, the body’s reactions are the same as if it were responding to an external threat. An overdrive of nervous impulses triggers adrenaline production and causes physical symptoms.

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Characteristics Of The Pain

Although chest pain is common to both a panic attack and a heart attack, the characteristics of the pain often differ.

During a panic attack, chest pain is usually sharp or stabbing and localized in the middle of the chest.

Chest pain from a heart attack may resemble pressure or a squeezing sensation.

Chest pain that occurs due to a heart attack may also start in the center of the chest, but can then radiate from the chest to the arm, jaw, or shoulder blades.

Stress And Anxiety Management

Anxiety that builds up can lead to panic attacks. If you experience frequent anxiety, consider seeking help from a mental health professional. They can help you work through your anxiety and reduce the likelihood of external stressors triggering a panic attack.

Even if you dont have an anxiety disorder, stress itself is a fact of life. However, stress can also trigger your asthma, so its important to manage it as best as you can.

Some steps you can take to reduce everyday stress include:

  • relaxation techniques, such as meditation and deep breathing exercises
  • regular physical exercise
  • reduced intake of alcohol and caffeine
  • getting enough sleep

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What To Do If You’re Unsure

If there’s any question, head to the hospital and get checked out. “If you have a history of panic attacks, the symptoms persist and your normal treatment doesn’t resolve it, or if heart attack symptoms do not go away, go to the hospital,” says Dr. O’Leary. “Do not be embarrassed we are here to sort that out. You are not wasting anyone’s time.”

Recognition and response are essential to early care. “Any time a person experiences chest pain or other atypical symptoms they cannot attribute to a specific cause, they should seek emergency care right away,” says Kisicki. “Call 911 instead of driving yourself so that Emergency Medical Services can start treatment on the way to the hospital.”

Can A Panic Attack Cause A Heart Attack

Heart Attack or Panic Attack?

A panic attack will not cause a heart attack. A blockage in one or more of the blood vessels to the heart, which leads to an interruption of vital blood flow, causes a heart attack.

Although a panic attack will not cause a heart attack, stress and anxiety might play a role in the development of coronary artery disease.

Panic attacks can occur as isolated events or as part of an anxiety disorder.

Some research indicates that people with anxiety disorders may have an increased risk of developing heart disease due to low heart rate variability .

HRV is the time between each heartbeat. The autonomic nervous system controls the heart rate. The heart rate is meant to vary throughout the day, depending on a persons activities and emotions.

A high HRV indicates that a persons heart rate shifts efficiently throughout the day, based on what they are doing. It is also a sign that their autonomic nervous system is working well.

A low HRV means a persons heart does not switch gears as efficiently. Some studies associate a low HRV with an increased risk of heart disease.

In the researchers analysis of studies looking at HRV in people who were diagnosed with various types of anxiety disorder, including panic disorder, the results indicated the participants had a lower HRV than those without an anxiety disorder.

As the symptoms of panic attacks and heart attacks are similar, it is always best to seek immediate medical attention when in doubt.

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Did You Know: You Can Experience Anxiety Symptoms When You’re Not Feeling Anxious

There is an issue known as limited symptom panic attacks. These are when your body has less than 4 of the physical symptoms of an anxiety attack, and they may occur even when you’re not suffering from anxiety.

Those that get panic attacks are prone to these limited symptom attacks and experience issues like chest pain and shortness of breath without any triggers – often leading to future worries about their own health. It’s hard to know if you have limited symptom attacks without knowing your anxiety.

Mayo Clinic Q And A: Panic Attack Isnt Life

DEAR MAYO CLINIC: After going to the emergency department for what I thought was a heart attack, the doctor told me there were no issues with my heart and that my symptoms were likely from a panic attack. How can I tell the difference, and how can I prevent future panic attacks?

ANSWER: While having a heart attack and experiencing a panic attack can feel similar, the symptoms differ and the two conditions are managed very differently. Although not life-threatening like a heart attack, a panic attack can be a frightening experience. Panic attacks also can affect your quality of life, as it’s common to develop a fear of having another panic attack.

A heart attackoccurs when coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood become narrowedfrom the buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances. Most heart attacksinvolve chest discomfort, such as an uncomfortable pressure, squeezing,fullness or pain. Other heart attack signs and symptoms include shortness ofbreath, cold sweats, nausea, lightheadedness and discomfort in other areas ofthe upper body, such as the arm, neck or jaw.

Signs andsymptoms of a panic attack often come on suddenly and peak within minutes. Apanic attack may occur as a result of a frightening or stressful situation, ormay even occur out of the blue. Attacks may even occur unexpectedly andrepeatedly as a component of a panic disorder or along with another mentalhealth condition.

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They Tend To Happen To Different Groups Of People But This Isnt An Exact Science

Heart attacks and panic attacks can affect anyone at any age, but some patterns hold true for everyone. Men and older people are more likely to have a heart attack, whereas women and younger people are more likely to have a panic attack.

That said, it depends on the individual. A person who has a mental health condition, like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is more likely to have panic attacks than is someone without one. But it is possible to have panic attacks and have heart disease. Likewise, a person can have a heart attack out of the blue, without having any known risk factors.

Can Stress Cause Heart Problems

How Anxiety Can Mimic Angina

Stress is a proven cause of heart problems mainly heart disease. While the exact reasons how are still uncertain, people who are regularly exposed to stressful situations or who do not manage their stress have a greater chance of developing heart disease.

Excessive stress can lead to many negative effects on the body, both physical and mental. Some people cope with high stress situations by drinking too much or smoking, both of which wear down the body. Others may develop hypertension, ulcers, and many other conditions, all of which are additional stressors on the body.

Everyday life is full of challenges, both at home and at work. Taking time out of your day to de-stress can help you relax in the short term, and reduce your risk of developing heart disease later in life!

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What Is A Heart Attack

Heart attacks, or cardiac arrest , are usually caused by coronary heart disease , a condition where deposits of cholesterol in the coronary articles rupture, leading to a blood clot which then blocks the flow of blood to a part of the heart muscle. A less common cause is a severe spasm or contraction of the coronary artery, which also stops the blood flow.

Heart attacks are life-threatening, and the sooner they are identified and treated, the higher the chances of survival. Studies have found that over 90% of people hospitalised after a heart attack survive – but getting help urgently is key.

Is It A Heart Attack Or Panic Attack

Its always better to be safe than sorry when it comes to your health. So if you cant tell if youre having a heart attack or panic attack, seek medical attention right away.

If youre in the Gonzales, LA area, stop by Coastal Urgent Care of Gonzales to get checked out. Were open 7 days a week from 9 am to 8 pm to address your medical needs, so contact us any time.

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Are You Having An Anxiety Attack Or A Heart Attack

People who suffer from panic attacks often say their acute anxiety feels like a heart attack, as many of the symptoms can seem the same. Both conditions can be accompanied by shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, and even physical weakness or temporary paralysis.

Perhaps most powerful, though, is the sense of dread that overshadows both events. The fear itself can lead to an increase in these symptoms.

To learn more about living a heart-healthy lifestyle and what to do when anxiety feels like a heart attack, contact UPMCs Heart and Vascular Institute today.

Why Some People Think Their Panic Attack Is A Heart Attack:

Is it anxiety or a heart attack?

Not only do panic attacks and heart attacks feel similar, people who are prone to panic attacks particularly those who have cardiophobia often have a hard time trusting that their symptoms are coming from panic and not from a heart attack, even if theyve been through it before. Thats because panic disorder makes you believe you need absolute certainty that youre NOT having a heart attack for you to feel relief, says Wilson. Even if youve gone to the ER three times thinking you were having a heart attack, and been tested to rule out a physical condition, a person with panic disorder may see a new episode as a distinct event. They think, that was then, this is now what if it is a heart attack this time and Im missing it? he explains.

One more time, with feeling: If youre having ambiguous symptoms that scare you especially if they feel different from your last panic attack call 911.

But if you are in good health and think theres a decent chance that your brain is messing with you especially if it has in the past and youve been reassured that you dont have a heart problem you may need practice sitting with these symptoms so they can pass, and not escalating them with your fear. At some point you have to say to yourself, heres my tendency, heres my pattern, says Wilson. I need to start trusting in what others have said to me, because I cant trust what my mind is doing in those moments.

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What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

A heart attack is when part of your heart doesnt get enough blood. This usually happens because an artery that supplies blood to the heart is blocked. Common heart attack symptoms include:

  • Chest pain or pressure.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Feeling of impending doom.

A heart attack can be life-threatening, so dont wait to see if the symptoms go away. Seek immediate medical care if you have signs of a heart attack.

How To Stop A Panic Attack

If you recognize that you are having a panic attack, there are a few things that you can do. First, try to get out of the situation that triggered the attack. Then, take slow deep breaths and try to calm down. Sometimes, talking to a trusted friend helps.

For repeat or frequent panic attacks, self-coping strategies, like meditation and mindfulness, can help you handle the attack. Mindfulness means recognizing your physical reaction and reminding yourself that there is no real danger. Talk therapy and anti-anxiety medications, or medications that help slow your heart rate, may help decrease the frequency of attacks.

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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.

Anxiety And Heart Attack Recovery

Heart Attack or Anxiety?

Anxiety disorders come with a high degree of fear and uncertainty. When this fear and certainty keeps the heart attack or heart disease patient from following the advice and treatment plan of their cardiologist, it can have a major impact on recovery. Anxiety can interfere with:

  • Sticking to prescribed exercise regimens
  • Taking prescribed medications
  • Following through with a healthy diet
  • Getting a proper amount of quality sleep
  • Reconnecting with friends and family
  • Confidently resuming job career and family responsibilities

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When To Seek Medical Attention

If you ever question if you are having a heart attack, seek medical attention immediately. Chest pain can be a sign of a serious heart attack, and it is never worth taking a chance on your health or your life.

Since panic attacks can be so difficult to distinguish from other more serious problems, the first episode of a suspected panic attack should prompt you to seek medical attention.

People who have been diagnosed with panic disorder and have recurring panic attacks will become familiar with the symptom, and can be reassured that the symptoms will pass with time.

Anxiety And Heart Disease

The association between anxiety and heart disease has not been as fully studied as the relationship between depression and heart disease.

However, Una D McCann, M.D., director of the Anxiety Disorders Program at Johns Hopkins Bayview Medical Center, believes the connection is strong.

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Mechanisms Of Chest Pain In Panic Disorder

Panic disorder may cause chest pain via a number of mechanisms. These include cardiac mechanisms and noncardiac mechanisms . These mechanisms may not exist independent of one another, as there is evidence to suggest that multiple causes of chest painboth cardiac and noncardiacmay be at work in any given patient with PD.

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