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Health Anxiety Are you plagued by fears about your body or health? Are you suffering from Health Anxiety? Please check other sub-forums first to see if your problem should be posted there instead. E.G. the IBS forum or the medication forum or the symptoms forum.
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Old 22-10-07, 15:21
Elly 2 Elly 2 is offline
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Why tight chest?

Can anyone tell me why do we get a tight chest when we panic. The reason I am asking is because I get the tight chest and that is the reason I panic. I know people who have angina get chest pain when they are stressed because the blood flow to the heart is restricted but I don't know what causes the same effect when panicking. Does anyone know the answer?
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Old 22-10-07, 17:24
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honeybee3939 honeybee3939 is offline
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Re: Why tight chest?

Hi Elly

This is from the symptoms section of the forum, hope it helps ...

What you feel:

One of the most worrying symptoms is chest pains or a tight feeling in your chest. The immediate thought is "heart attack" or "stroke" and this only worries you more. You may also notice that your heartbeat is incredibly fast or irregular at times having palpitations and again this leads to the worry that you will have a heart attack.

Often the chest muscles may feel very tight, and sometimes they can become painful if they are tight enough to spasm. Because the individual may become concerned that they may be having a heart attack, their fear will add to the stress biology which can not only worsen the pain, but can produce other symptoms similar to a heart attack such as profuse sweating, light-headedness and numbness in the arms, feet or face.
These increased symptoms can also cause more fear which then can turn into a panic attack
Your heart feels like it skips a beat or flops in your chest. It sometimes may feel like a tickle in your chest that makes you cough. If you take your pulse, you'll notice that sometimes the beats are unevenly spaced.
You may experience a tightness or pressure in the chest. Sometimes you may feel shooting pains, or muscle twitches, or just an uneasiness or fullness in the chest area which causes you concern

There is no evidence that panic and anxiety has any adverse effect on the heart and the pains are easily explained.

What causes this:

Stress biology causes the heart rate to increase. It does this so that the body is ready to take action. Itís like in drag racing, drivers get their RPMís up prior to the green light so that they can hit the light with maximum torque. Since the stimulant hormone adrenaline, the bodyís super fuel, is produced when danger is perceived, the heart rate is naturally increased.

Once the stimulant is used and eliminated from the body, the heart rate will return to its normal range.
Moderate regular exercise helps to regulate this symptom.
When you start panicking the whole of your body becomes tense and this includes your muscles.
The chest pains you experience are due to the constricting of the chest wall muscles and the muscles between your ribs and not due to any actual muscles in your heart and the best cure is to start stretching these muscles gently to relieve the pain. Although you may not feel like doing any exercise whilst getting these pains, try stretching your arms above and behind your head, out to the sides and bending over gently to relieve the pain.

Naturally most people are dreadfully worried about their hearts but if your G.P. has given you the all clear cardiac wise - then do not be alarmed if the chest pains and palpitations come back and last for more than a day. If it is related to panic, although it is painful and worrying, the pains will subside if you try gentle exercise and ignore them.
Regular exercise and deep relaxation help to minimize this symptom. Also, staying away from artificial stimulants such as caffeine, chocolate, high doses of raw sugar (such as pastries, sweets, cookies, etc.) and smoking help to keep this symptom in check.


"If you have a worry turn it into a problem, you cant solve worrys but you can solve problems"
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Old 23-10-07, 10:03
Elly 2 Elly 2 is offline
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Re: Why tight chest?

Thankyou for taking the time to answer my question. Unfortunately I am having a particularly bad time at the moment with chest pains, not heart related so the GP tells me but it has been going on for such a long time now that I'm not convinced. Of course it doesn't help because I am in such a state about it. Catch 22 really! but thankyou x
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