Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 20

Thread: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

  1. #1

    Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    Itís a pretty common scenario for most first time panic attack sufferers to immediately think theyíre having a heart attack. After all, one of the most prominent symptoms of a panic attack is a POUNDING heartbeat that seems to flutter out of control. Itís pretty terrifying. Plus, if youíre unfamiliar with the symptoms of a panic attack, a heart attack seems like a natural conclusion to what youíre feeling.

    Because itís so common to mistake the chest pains that normally accompany panic attacks for a life threatening heart attack, this article will clear up the confusion and differentiate between the two. Upfront, I just want to say that people donít die from panic attacks.

    So even though it feels like your heart is going to pop right out of your chest during one of these episodes, the fact is, attacks like these are analogous to intense levels of cardio exercise with one major safety net. Extreme cardio exercise may potentially lead to heart attack whereas a panic attack will force you to pass out or faint before any real damage is done.

    Thatís because the physical symptoms of a panic attack are triggered by an offset in breathing (usually hyperventilation). Your heart isnít being strained; itís being thrown into a natural fight or flight response. Also, your heart isnít whatís causing the panic attack Ė your mind is.

    The fear combined with the physical sensation creates a natural sense of urgency.

    Every year, thousands (if not millions) of people having chest pain, difficulty breathing, pain or numbness in the left arm and tingling throughout the body end up in a hospital emergency room because they believe theyíre having a heart attack. Typically, a few tests are run, and the patient is sent home because the nature of the attack he or she experienced is one of panic, not coronary.

    Here, Iíll outline the symptoms of both a heart attack and a panic attack so you can see their subtle differences.
    The two share several common symptoms. For instance, the chest pain from a heart attack is focused in the center of the chest and is crushing, as if a heavy weight is sitting on top of the chest. It is usually persistent, may radiate to the left arm, neck or back and lasts longer than 5 - 10 minutes. Heart attack victims don't hyperventilate (unless the person's fear of heart attack triggers a panic attack), any tingling they experience is usually confined to the left arm, and vomiting is common.

    During a panic attack, chest pain is localized over the heart and described as "sharp, and comes and goes. The pain usually intensifies with breathing in and out, and pressing on the center of the chest. Panic attack may cause nausea, but vomiting is very rare. If tingling is present, the entire body tingles. Hyperventilation almost always precedes a panic attack symptoms If the location of the pain moves to the center of the chest, doesn't go away within 10 minutes, is accompanied by more than one incident of vomiting or diarrhea, or goes away and returns a few minutes later, you should immediately get medical attention.

    Now, if youíre having panic attacks, you may be inclined to worry about how these episodes are affecting your heart long-term.

    Panic attacks don't cause heart disease, and some experts say that they actually affect the heart similarly to the way cardio exercise does, by causing the release of adrenaline, increasing the heart rate, and expanding blood vessels. On the same note, heart disease doesn't cause panic attacks, although a person with a history of panic attacks who is actually having a coronary may also panic for fear of worsening the heart damage, dying or being disabled.

    That said, stress is NEVER good for your overall health so itís important to start treating your panic and anxiety right away. You wonít hear me say that stress benefits your health of course but try not to think of stress as some terminal condition.

    The truth is if you donít have traditional risk factors Ė youíre not a smoker, you donít have high blood pressure, obesity, have a family history of heart attack, your risk should be very low.

    If youíre having panic attacks, chances are you have high levels of anxiety and this kind of constant stress can lead to obsessions about your health. Iím here to tell you that if you take care of yourself with exercise and proper eating (something you should be doing anyway), you donít need to worry about heart failure during a panic attack. It simply wonít happen. The two scenarios (panic attacks and heart attacks) are completely separate animals and should be treated as such.

    Now that said, just because you wonít die from a panic attack, that doesnít mean you should just live with the debilitating anxiety it creates. There IS help for you.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    108

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    so those of us with high blood pressure, overweight and smokers should worry !!!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    , , United Kingdom.
    Posts
    43,200

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    Jue - yes is the answer I am afraid.
    __________________
    Nicola

    ďDon't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.Ē - Natalie Babbitt

    Please help keep NMP running and donate to the running costs: http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/donate




  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    108

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    my point seems rather to have been missed in that anyone can have a heart attack, and pointing out on a panic attack forum that those of us who are overweight are more likely to have one is neither helpful or supportive, its not like theres not enough to set a panic attack off, lets add a post that actually tells me im more likely to have one!!! just what is needed, i didnt see the need for the end of the post, you have useful info on this site about how panic can mimic heart symptoms without this one in my opinion .

    it will make me less likely to come here to this forum for support when i read this.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    , , United Kingdom.
    Posts
    43,200

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    Jue - I had a heart attack 8 months ago and they said all of those factors could have caused it - they just don't know.

    I didn't want to lie and say "of course you aren't at risk" because you are more at risk I am afraid. That is the sad reality of it.

    Sorry if it upset you but I think the post was actually quite good in that it explained that not all pain with the heart is a heart attack as such and most of it is good old anxiety!

    We can all do things to reduce the risk:

    stop smoking
    lose weight
    eat healthily
    exercise more

    which in turn lowers the blood pressure too.
    __________________
    Nicola

    ďDon't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.Ē - Natalie Babbitt

    Please help keep NMP running and donate to the running costs: http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/donate




  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jul 2007
    Posts
    108

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    the issue of the post appeared to be to reassure about the difference between panic and heart attacks, however both you and i know that this sort of article does not make much difference as we all need to take control of our panic and anxiety and work toward acceptance or to use meds to allow us the time to do this, to trust out bodies and our thoughts.
    So for me the addition of the piece on if your not an 8 stone non smoking vegetarian who is in perfect condition you will have a heart attack achieves nothing but reinforcing some peoples worry further and something else to latch on to to disrupt the day.

    Im sure we are all well aware that weight, smoking and salt are an issue in our health, but this does not seem the apt forum(piece of literature to voice it.)

    just my opinion.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2003
    Location
    , , United Kingdom.
    Posts
    43,200

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    Jue - It is a sad fact that the doctor's believe all these things are a factor.

    You asked the question
    so those of us with high blood pressure, overweight and smokers should worry !!!
    Maybe my reply should have said "yes, under some cirumstances" but the answer is still yes.

    We have loads on here at the moment that are convinced they are having a heart attack cos of the chest pain and it can be explained by anxiety too and for that reason I think the post was a valid one.

    No-one else has replied so I guess we don't have any other opinions on the post - perhaps someone will reply soon.
    __________________
    Nicola

    ďDon't be afraid of death; be afraid of an unlived life. You don't have to live forever, you just have to live.Ē - Natalie Babbitt

    Please help keep NMP running and donate to the running costs: http://www.nomorepanic.co.uk/donate




  8. #8

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    i thought the post was great just as i thought i was having a bad p/a i come back 2 no more panic as it has been my rock through this last year on reading pepoles probs as well understanding that im not the only one going through panic attacks i am a smoker and i no im at risk more by smoking that it is a fact. thats why i fear more i think but it's very hard 2 quit but i hope someday i will great post.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    7

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    Anybody that suffers from panic attacks on a regular basis understands the horror of chest pains that they can not seem to explain. One of the hallmarks of panic attacks and panic disorder is a generalized chest pain that can mimic a heart attack quite well. So well, in fact, that discerning the difference between a heart attack and a panic attack has to be done by a doctor. Heart attacks are something that you can not afford to guess at. This leads to a number of panic sufferers making regular trips to the emergency rooms of with chest pain, only to be told that they are fine and suffering from panic attacks.
    __________________
    Last edited by tetley; 06-06-09 at 10:46. Reason: advertising

  10. #10
    Join Date
    May 2009
    Posts
    173

    Re: Is it a Panic Attack or Heart Attack? Know the Difference!

    Thank you very much for a most informative post.

Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Similar Threads

  1. Panic attack/anxiety attack give-aways...
    By Lawton86 in forum Panic / Panic Attacks
    Replies: 16
    Last Post: 15-03-11, 16:50
  2. whats the difference between an anxiety attack and a panic attack?
    By Cheeky220 in forum General Anxiety / Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
    Replies: 12
    Last Post: 05-06-09, 15:58
  3. Heart racing, on the verge of panic attack
    By Maybe_Baby in forum Panic / Panic Attacks
    Replies: 4
    Last Post: 10-12-08, 21:37
  4. Adrenaline without racing heart = panic attack?
    By canadianme in forum Symptoms
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 15-04-08, 03:31
  5. Panic Attack with just heart symptoms
    By Ma Larkin in forum General Anxiety / Generalised anxiety disorder (GAD)
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 26-04-06, 11:34

Tags for this Thread

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •