Wednesday, August 10, 2022

Does A Panic Attack Feel Like A Heart Attack

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Describe Chest Pain To Your Doctor

What does a Panic Attack feel like? (Simulation)

Doctors use several pieces of information to determine who is, and who isn’t, having a heart attack. In addition to the description of your symptoms and your heart risk profile, doctors use the results of an electrocardiogram and a blood test called cardiac troponin. But sometimes these don’t immediately show abnormalities. So, what you describe to the doctor and your medical history are extremely important in determining the initial steps in your treatment.

Here are some things your doctors will want to know about what you are experiencing:

  • What is it that you are feeling ?

  • Where is the discomfort?

  • Has it gotten worse or stayed the same?

  • Is the feeling constant, or does it come and go?

  • Have you felt it before?

  • What were you doing before these feelings started?

Clear answers to these questions go a long way toward nailing down a diagnosis. A few seconds of recurrent stabbing pain is less likely to be a heart attack , while pain centered in the chest that spreads out to the left arm or jaw is more likely to be one.

Women Panic Attacks And Heart Disease

Women are twice as likely as men to have a panic attack. Women also are more prone to migraines than men. One study found most women who have panic attacks suffer from migraines as well. Women who experience both had more frequent and longer-lasting panic attacks. Women over age 50 who have heart disease are more likely to have panic attacks as well.

As with panic attacks, women experience different heart attack symptoms than men. Because of this, women may not even know that anything is wrong. Women often explain away heart attack symptoms as acid reflux, the flu or aging, even though heart disease is the No. 1 killer of women in the U.S. Panic attacks can be another reason a woman may delay getting care.

If A Heart Attack Is Ruled Out Medically But Panic Attack Symptoms Continue

Consider visiting your primary care doctor if:

  • The panic attacks are beginning to interfere with your daily life or ability to function at work, school, home or in important relationships
  • The fear or anxiety of future panic attacks negatively impacts any of the above areas
  • You find you’re actively avoiding doing certain things or going places for fear of having another panic attack
  • You’re interested in learning how to manage your panic attacks or panic-related anxiety better

“With treatment, you can learn how to recognize the signs of an oncoming panic attack, learn skills to de-escalate the panic and break the anxiety cycle,” says Dr. Walker. “While treatment can’t necessarily prevent panic attacks from happening, they can improve your ability to manage the severity, frequency and duration of these attacks so that they’re not as disruptive or distressful.”

If you think you are experiencing a panic attack, Dr. Walker has some helpful advice. “Self-talk is important when having a panic attack. Sometimes it’s helpful to remind yourself out loud something like I’m not dying. I’m having a panic attack. It’s uncomfortable, but I’m OK. This will pass.’ Keeping a level head can be difficult when anxiety tries to hijack your thinking, but the more we can talk ourselves through it, the easier it can be to feel like you’re in control.”

Need help with frequent panic attacks?402.836.9292

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How To Treat A Heart Attack

A heart attack is an emergency. If you think you or someone near you may be having a heart attack, call 911 right away. If not treated quickly, a heart attack can cause serious heart damage, cardiac arrest, or death. The sooner you get to a hospital, the sooner medical professionals can evaluate you and start lifesaving treatment if necessary.

Chest Pain Caused By Anxiety Or Panic Attacks

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

Is it a heart attack or anxiety?

Chest pain is always alarming. Most of us associate it with cardiac conditions such as angina or myocardial infarction .

But chest pain can be caused by myriad conditions that have nothing to do with the heart. One common cause is an anxiety attack.

This article lays out the impact of anxiety attacks, how they cause chest pain, and what to expect when you see your healthcare provider with anxiety-related chest pain.

Verywell / Laura Porter

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Take Stock Of The Situation

Accept your feelings of anxiety, recognize them, and then work through putting them in perspective.

Are you worried about something you cant control? Are you fearful of an outcome thats unlikely? Are you dreading a situation you cant control the outcome of? Talk your way through your feelings to find the source, and then work to put them into perspective.

Impact Of Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks, or panic attacks, are episodes of intense fear and emotional distress. They usually strike suddenly and without warning. And they may last several minutes or up to an hour.

These attacks may have a discrete trigger. Sometimes, though, they occur without a known cause.

Anxiety attacks are often recurrent. They’re distressing to experience and concerning for friends and family who witness them.

When you’ve had panic attacks, it’s common to worry about having more. Attempts to avoid them can lead to extreme lifestyle changes.

You may find yourself avoiding situations or environments that have triggered previous episodes. You may also get in the habit of checking for escape routes you can take should anxiety strike.

Avoidance strategies can become extensive. At the extreme end is people who become housebound or otherwise withdraw from the world. This is called agoraphobia.

Anxiety attacks aren’t just intense fright, though. They can cause physical symptoms including:

  • Severe dyspnea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain

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What Is A Panic Attack Vs Heart Attack

When you feel your heart racing and start having pain in your chest, you may worry that you are having a heart attack. There are a lot of similarities in the way the body reacts when it comes to a panic attack vs. heart attack. However, the causes and outcomes of each condition are quite different.

Its common for people to confuse the symptoms of a panic attack with those of a heart attack. Thats why its important to understand the distinctions so you can receive the correct care.

What is a panic attack?

People having a panic attack often experience intense waves of fear washing over them. They may feel like they are trapped and unable to move. There is often no warning or obvious trigger when a panic attack strikes. Its possible for a panic attack to occur whether you are awake or asleep. Panic attacks typically last anywhere from five to 30 minutes, usually peaking at 10 minutes.

What is a heart attack?

A heart attack, also referred to as a myocardial infarction, happens when a blockage stops blood from flowing to the heart, which keeps the heart from getting enough oxygen. As more time passes without that essential element, the heart muscle starts to die, which can eventually lead to death.

Differences Between Anxiety And Heart Problems

What A Panic Attack Feels Like

As you can see, anxiety and heart problems have remarkably similar symptoms!

While not as accurate a professional diagnosis, there are subtle differences between anxiety and heart problems which you may be able to determine at home.

  • The chest pain from an anxiety attack is sharper and more localized, while the pain from a heart attack is duller and radiates more
  • Anxiety attacks stem from a mental and not a physical cause
  • Anxiety attacks rarely cause vomiting
  • Heart attack pain may occur in the back or shoulders, while anxiety pain does not

And remember anxiety and heart problems can happen to people who have never had issues with either.

If you have any doubts at all about whether you are experiencing anxiety or heart problems, contact your doctor. They will be able to determine which you are experiencing and advise you as to what to do next.

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Am I Having A Heart Attack

Its always better to be safe rather than sorry when your heart is involved. But chances are that your terrible feelings are not those of a heart attack, but of a panic attack instead.

Approximately one quarter of patients who go to the emergency room for treatment of chest pain have panic disorder, says psychiatrist Many of these patients are young women, among whom panic disorders are more common and heart disease is rare.

Chest pain is a symptom that can accompany panic attacks. But panic disorder is often unrecognized and untreated among young women with chest pain.

How To Tell The Difference Between A Heart Attack And A Panic Attack

The best way to tell the difference is to simply visit the doctor and have your heart tested. If your heart is in good health, it’s very unlikely you are suffering from a heart attack, especially if you have signs of anxiety. The good news is that there are plenty of easy tests to rule out any serious heart problems.

Beyond that, there are very minute differences in the symptoms. Examples include:

  • Chest pain from anxiety tends to be more localized and sharp, while heart attacks radiate and are often duller.
  • Panic attacks rarely cause vomiting – a somewhat common symptom of heart attacks, although not in all of those that experience one.
  • Panic attacks tend to be more systematic. They generally peak about 10 minutes in and then there is a slow and steady decline. Heart attacks can follow this same pattern, but it’s less common.

Otherwise, the best thing to do is get your heart checked and learn whether or not you’re suffering from any heart problems. If not, then you’re experiencing anxiety attacks.

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Less Likely To Be A Heart Attack

Sensation of pain, or of pressure, tightness, squeezing, or burning

Sharp or knifelike pain brought on by breathing or coughing

Gradual onset of pain over the course of a few minutes

Sudden stabbing pain that lasts only a few seconds

Pain in diffuse area, including a constant pain in middle of chest

Pain clearly on one side of the body or the other

Pain that extends to the left arm, neck, jaw, or back

Pain that is localized to one small spot

Pain or pressure accompanied by other signs, such as difficulty breathing, a cold sweat, or sudden nausea

Pain that lasts for many hours or days without any other symptoms

Pain or pressure that appears during or after physical exertion or emotional stress or while you are at rest

Pain reproduced by pressing on the chest or with body motion

Heart Attack Or A Panic Attack Knowing The Difference Could Save Your Life

Feeling Light Headed And Nauseous

On November 5, 2017, The Cleveland Caveliers All-Star forward Kevin Love left the game, fearing that he was having a heart attack. The 31-year-old, 68 professional athlete is larger than life, and seemingly in optimal physical condition. Yet on November 5, Love described symptoms that would make many of us call 9-1-1. He has since been quoted as saying the following:

I was winded within the first few possessions. That was strangeAfter halftime, it all hit the fan. Coach Lue called a timeout in the third quarter. When I got to the bench, I felt my heart racing faster than usual. Then I was having trouble catching my breath. Its hard to describe, but everything was spinning like my brain was trying to climb out of my head. The air felt thick and heavy. My mouth was like chalk

By that point, I was freaking out. When I got up to walk out of the huddle, I knew I couldnt reenter the game like, literally, couldnt do it physicallyI blurted something like, Ill be right back, and I ran back to the locker room. I was running from room to room like I was looking for something I couldnt find. Really I was just hoping my heart would stop racing. It was like my body was trying to say to me, Youre about to die. I ended up on the floor in the training room, lying on my back, trying to get enough air to breathe.

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How Can I Slow A Racing Heart

One helpful rule of thumb comes from a very patient hotline nurse who once talked me through a panic attack of my own. What she told me, and what I now pass on to you , is this: You cant deep-breathe your way out of a heart attack, but you can deep-breathe your way through a panic attack. If you feel your heart racing, breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth several times in a row. If it helps, youre probably just panicking. If its a heart attack, that deep-breathing is going to hurt.

Another technique you can try is the Valsalva maneuver, which basically means bearing down. The way to describe it is that youre bearing down, so you put your hand on your abdomen and push your abdomen muscles against your hands, says McLaughlin. She also compares it to the sensation of having a bowel movement or a baby. This maneuver causes rapid shifts in heart rate and blood pressure, which can help restore your normal heart rate.

Thirdly, says McLaughlin, you can drink cold water and/or splash cold water on your face. Theres something called the diving reflex there are some sensors inside your nose that slow the heart rate so you can hold your breath and swim longer, says McLaughlin. By splashing cold water on your face, or drinking cold water, that can stimulate the vagus nerves to slow the heart rate down.

Does A 170 Heart Rate Mean Im Having A Heart Attack What About 200

If youre experiencing a racing sensation in your chest , take your heart rate. In general, some fast arrhythmias will go at a rate of 150 and above, and those would definitely lead to feeling faint, says McLaughlin. But if a heart rate, in general, is less than 150 beats a minute, in a younger person whos in their 20s or 30s, it could just be a panic attack. Even with a heart rate of 180 or 200, McLaughlin says its much more likely that youre experiencing an arrhythmia than a heart attack. If your heart rate is that high, McLaughlin suggests employing the panic-attack techniques above, and seeing your doctor.

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The Differences Between A Heart Attack And A Panic Attack

There are methods to distinguish a heart attack from a panic attack, including:

  • Characteristics of the pain: Chest pain is a common symptom of both heart attacks and panic attacks. Chest pain from a panic attack is usually sharp and localized in the center of the chest, while the chest pain resulting from a heart attack feels more like pressure or a squeezing sensation. Pain from a heart attack may also radiate, or spread, to the arm, jaw, or shoulder blades, whereas in panic attacks, the pain doesnt spread.
  • Onset: Heart attacks can come on as the result of physical exertion, whereas panic attacks usually have a trigger that makes the person anxious.
  • Duration: While a panic attack typically resolves within 20 to 30 minutes, the pain from a heart attack gets worse over time and it has longer-lasting symptoms, and the pain becomes worse over time.
  • Your risk factors: Certain people are at higher risk of heart disease and heart attacks, including people over the age of 40, those with a family history, smokers, the overweight, diabetics, and people who have high blood pressure. If you are younger than 40 and you have no other risk factors, its unlikely you are having a heart attack.

Are All Panic Attacks The Same

What Do Panic Attacks Feel Like?

Not all panic attacks are experienced in the same way. The following describes one way panic attacks are categorized:

  • Expected panic attacks: These attacks occur when a person is subjected to or is anticipating a particular trigger. For example, a person with a fear of heights may have a panic attack when inside of a tall building.
  • Situational predisposed panic attacks: These attacks are similar to cued panic attacks, but do not always occur after subjection to a feared situation. These attacks also dont always occur at the time the person is exposed to the trigger. For instance, a person who has a fear of flying may not always have a panic attack while on a plane or may have one after being on a flight.
  • Unexpected panic attacks: These attacks occur suddenly without any internal or external cues.

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Should You See Your Doctor About Panic Attacks

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

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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