Wednesday, July 17, 2024

How To Know If It’s Anxiety Or Heart Attack

Don't Miss

Treatments For A Panic Attack Vs Heart Attack

Is This an Anxiety Attack or Heart rate issues? How to Know

If your panic attacks may be the result of a panic disorder, your doctor may recommend that you start attending some form of therapy, such as cognitive behavioral therapy or exposure therapy. Also, they may recommend that you start taking medication to manage your anxiety and panic symptoms. These include antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications.

For heart attacks, doctors may inject a clot-dissolving agent to restore blood flow to the affected coronary artery. If that doesnt work, they may resort to performing surgery to increase blood flow to your heart.

The Connection Between Anxiety Disorders And Heart Disease

Research has shown that anxiety disorders and heart disease can both cause the other to develop. If you have an anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder , panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder , you are 26% more likely to develop heart diseaseespecially coronary artery disease and heart failure.

People who have anxiety for a long time experience certain changes in their bodies, including reduced blood flow to the heart, increased heart rate and blood pressure and elevated levels of cortisol, a stress hormone released by the adrenal glands. Over time, these effects can lead to heart disease.

Research suggests that anxiety disorders contribute to heart disease in several other ways, such as:

Having a heart attack can trigger the development of an anxiety disorder. Roughly 30% of people who have had a heart attack will have elevated levels of anxiety after the event. This anxiety might be related to the heart attack itself, the fear of death or disability, or the financial cost of medical care.

A person who is having an anxiety attack may have similar symptoms to someone experiencing a heart attack, such as:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Trembling

What Anxiety Chest Pain Feels Like

Anxiety symptoms are rarely the same from person to person. Some days, symptoms arent even the same for the same person. Anxiety presents itself in a variety of ways, and that makes detecting or understanding symptoms difficult.

Chest pain associated with anxiety feels different for each person. Some people may experience chest pain on a gradual basis. For others, the pain may be sudden and unexpected. Anxiety chest pain can be described as:

  • sharp, shooting pain
  • an unusual muscle twitch or spasm in your chest
  • burning, numbness, or a dull ache
  • stabbing pressure
  • chest tension or tightness

If you dont have a history of chest pain with anxiety, you may be alarmed. Many people assume theyre having a heart attack and go to the hospitals emergency department for treatment.

An estimated 25 to 50 percent of patients who come to the emergency department with low risk chest pain experience moderate to severe anxiety, according to 2018 research.

If you visit a hospital emergency room and the doctors dont find a specific cause for your chest pain, consider consulting with your doctor about other possible causes, including anxiety.

Don’t Miss: Does Benadryl Lower Heart Rate

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.

Pain In Other Parts Of The Body

What is Anxiety? Get to know its Symptoms, Causes, and its ...

While chest pain is common in a heart attack, pain may occur in other areas of the body. Many people experience heart attacks as pain that begins in the chest and spreads to the shoulders, arms, back, neck, jaw, or abdomen. Men may experience pain in their left arm during a heart attack women may experience pain in either arm or between the shoulder blades. The pain may come and go and may be mild or severe. If you experience pain similar to this, go to an emergency department immediately. You may be experiencing a heart attack.

Also Check: Does Tylenol Increase Heart Rate

Is This The First Time Youve Felt This Way

If youâve never had a panic attack and youâre having chest pain, go to the hospital. A doctor should check to make sure youâre not having a serious medical problem, like a heart attack, a blood clot in your lungs, or a collapsed lung. Risk factors for a heart attack include high blood pressure, being overweight, having a close family member who has had a heart attack, and smoking.

Chest Pain: Is It Anxiety A Heart Attack Or Covid

Panic disorder whether youve lived with it for years or have developed it due to the pandemic can cause chest pain, but cardiac and other physiological issues need to be ruled out before treatment can begin. And remember, any kind of chest pain requires medical attention.

Chest pain or tightness could be a symptom of the increased anxiety that is now prevalent in every facet of life as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to develop. Then again, it might not.

Chest pain also can be the result of a cardiac issue or due to a non-cardiac cause, such as gastroesophageal reflux disease, or GERD1, a muscle or skeletal problem in the chest,2 or even a symptom of COVID-19.3

When associated with a panic attack, chest pain is a common symptom, but how do we know whats causing chest pain when we feel it? The only way to know for sure is by seeking medical attention.

Heightened levels of anxiety can cause chest pain to develop.

Recommended Reading: Can Flonase Cause Heart Palpitations

Want To Beat Depression For Yourself Or A Friend

W. Nate Upshaw, MD

Dr. William Nathan Upshaw is the Medical Director of NeuroSpa TMS®. Since receiving training from the inventor of TMS Therapy nearly a decade ago, Dr. Upshaw has been a pioneer, champion and outspoken advocate of TMS Therapy. Dr. Upshaws holistic experience in the field has transformed him into Floridas leading advocate for widespread accessibility to TMS Therapy.

When you are experiencing high levels of anxiety or panic, there is an undoubtable fear about your safety and wellbeing. However, while there may be similar physical and emotional sensations between these events, there are distinctive differences in these terms, what they mean, and how they are experienced. There is a difference between a panic attack vs anxiety attack, and a very stark difference between those two events, and a heart attack.

A panic attack is an intense period of fear and anxiety that can have environmental triggers, but may also occur without any known warning. These attacks last for about 15-20 minutes on average but can feel a lot longer than that if you are experiencing one. Someone may experience any number of these symptoms when having a panic attack:

  • Increased heart rate.
  • Feeling that you might be choking.
  • Dizziness.
  • Fear that youre dying or going crazy.
  • Numbness.
  • A feeling that whats happening around you isnt real.

How To Detect Abnormal Heart Rhythm Patterns

What is a Panic Attack?

Abnormal heart rhythms have three patterns, and the first is the easiest to figure out: You develop a sudden elevated heart rate with anxiety. Your device will show an abrupt heart rate acceleration, and when symptoms stop, the device should abruptly return to normal. This is usually shown as a spike in the graph of more than 30 to 40 bpm.

The second really depends on understanding your normal heart rate. In this pattern, the heart rate is exaggerated during rest or by an activity. If your heart rate while sleeping at night is typically 40 to 60 bpm, for example, but on a seemingly normal night it jumps to 70 to 90 bpm, you may have a form of an SVT called atrial tachycardia. In atrial tachycardia, the changing heart rate pattern is abnormal for you, it can last for longer periods of time, and it may occur without symptoms. The heart rate in atrial tachycardia is often more than 20 to 30 bpm faster than your normal heart rate would be for that same activity.

The last pattern is one in which the heart rate can vary dramatically from beat to beat this is seen in people with a very abnormal heart rate, such as atrial fibrillation. In some people, the heart rate is mildly elevated, while in others it may be more than 100 bpm. The smartphone graphs a chaotic, abnormal pattern with broad swings in the tracing from beat to beat. This same pattern can be seen in people with very frequent extra beats from the upper and lower heart chambers.

See More

Read Also: How Long Can Someone Live With Heart Failure

Can A Panic Attack Cause A Heart Attack

A panic attack is unlikely to cause a heart attack, but its possible. Emotional stress plays a role in both conditions. Both panic attacks and heart attacks can occur during or after a stressful situation, says Dr. Miller. But most of the time, people have a panic attack rather than a heart attack in response to emotional stress.

People who have anxiety, depression or chronic stress may have a higher risk of heart problems. Chronic stress can lead to high blood pressure, which raises the risk of heart attack and stroke.

Quick Read Angina Or Anxiety

  • Many people go to the emergency room with chest pain that feels like a heart attack but is instead anxiety.
  • Its unlikely that a young person without risk factors is having a heart attack, but you should still go to the emergency room if you experience symptoms.

Picture this: Your heart is racing. It feels like its not just beating in your chest but in your throat and neck. Its beating so hard that its impossible to think of anything else.

You feel short of breath, but short of breath doesnt quite describe it. Its more like youre smothering or choking. And when you think about it, swallowing is difficult, too.

On top of this, you are sweating and shaking uncontrollably. And you are dizzy to the point of needing to throw up.

Your chest gets tighter and tighter. You feel a sense of impending doom. Youre worried that you may be having a heart attack. What else could it be?

Also Check: Can Flonase Cause Heart Palpitations

How Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain

Anxiety is an emotional reaction that often causes your body to respond with the fight, flight, or freeze response. This response may also temporarily change how you breathe.

Most often, your fight, flight, or freeze response can lead to hyperventilation when youre breathing too quickly and this can increase chest pain.

As many as 1 in 10 people who seek medical care report hyperventilating.

Hyperventilating can cause chest pain because rapid breathing leads to lower carbon dioxide levels in your blood. When this happens, you may also feel lightheaded or tingling in your fingers and toes.

But while anxiety-induced chest pain can be uncomfortable, it isnt harmful or dangerous.

Panic Attack Vs Heart Attack: Know The Difference

5 Things People With Anxiety Want You to Know About Panic ...

It is critical to first diagnose what is causing your physical and emotional distress. Scan the outward symptoms of your own body .

Check for any exterior triggers or indications of an emergency cardiac situation .

Once a heart attack has been ruled out, seek help from the professional field most suited to handle the condition in question.

If the heart palpitations and other issue seem to arise from an internal physical cause unrelated to emotional stress, find a cardiologist.

If, on the other hand, the symptoms arise from emotional triggers, you may need to seek help from a licensed counselor.

There is no need to suffer in silence: help is available. If you need more information on how to cope with panic attacks and stress, contact us.

Recommended Reading: Why Do Av Nodal Cells Not Determine The Heart Rate

The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack Include Major Chest Pains And Shortness Of Breath

Heart attack symptoms differ according to gender. Male patients will say they have an acute onset of chest pain that often occurs during physical exertion, Leibowitz says. Theyll describe it as a crushing, stabbing pain and often hold their chest with a clenched fist. Men usually describe pain radiating to their left arm and jaw. Womens symptoms can be less obvious. The most common symptoms in women are shortness of breath and fatigue, notes Leibowitz. Theyll say they feel winded and sick, like they have the flu.

Dr. Sandra Sicular, emergency medicine physician, adds that many medical professionals may overlook shortness of breath and fatigue in women. Because their presentation can be atypical, their heart attacks may often be misdiagnosed as panic attacks.

Physical Symptoms During A Heart Attack

Symptoms of heart attack can vary between men and women. Both sexes often complain of chest painthe kind that is both intense and undeniablewhich can cause significant pressure, says Dr. Hirsch. Or, you may feel a crushing pain sensation that radiates to the neck, jaw, teeth, shoulder, and down the left arm, he adds. You may also sweat and feel dizzy, especially if youre femalewomen often experience nausea and vomiting, too, and are short-of-breath.

Read Also: Does Acid Reflux Cause Heart Palpitations

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.

Monitor Your Heart To Detect Anxiety Or Atrial Fibrillation


The best way to truly understand whether anxiety causes a fast heart rate, or if a fast heart rate causes anxiety, is to monitor your heart.

A heart monitor records your heart rhythm day and night. Some automatically record all heart rhythms others require you to push a button when you feel heart symptoms. When you dont have symptoms, heart monitors may not provide the information needed for a diagnosis. For that reason, I have patients use them for two to four weeks to increase my chances of capturing the event.

Over the past two years, more people are using their smartphones to keep track of their activity and heart rate, but each device has limitations. What’s important, however, is your daily trend.

Your heart rate varies throughout the day by a few beats per minute up to 10 bpm, even when doing very little activity or experiencing infrequent stress. When exercising, the variation may be more pronounced and change more quickly, which allows us to quickly adapt to different situations and challenges. When you look at the daily trend, you will quickly find your normal. This normal will have the lowest heart rates at night, and then change predictably during the day while at work and rest, and during exercise.

Also Check: Does Ibs Cause Heart Palpitations

The Link Between Anxiety Symptoms And Depression

Many people with anxiety disorders also suffer from depression at some point. Anxiety and depression are believed to stem from the same biological vulnerability, which may explain why they so often go hand-in-hand. Since depression makes anxiety worse , its important to seek treatment for both conditions.

Panic Attacks And Panic Disorder

Panic disorder is characterized by repeated, unexpected panic attacks, as well as fear of experiencing another episode. Agoraphobia, the fear of being somewhere where escape or help would be difficult in the event of a panic attack, may also accompany a panic disorder. If you have agoraphobia, you are likely to avoid public places such as shopping malls, or confined spaces such as an airplane.

Don’t Miss: Can This 10 Second Trick Prevent Your Heart Attack

What Are The Complications Of Panic Attacks

Panic attacks are highly treatable. Unfortunately, many people put off seeking help because theyre embarrassed. Untreated panic attacks or panic disorder can interfere with your ability to enjoy life. You may develop:

  • Anticipatory anxiety: The possibility of having a panic attack triggers extreme anxiety.
  • Phobias: A phobia is an extreme, unreasonable fear of something specific. For instance, acrophobia is a fear of heights, while claustrophobia is a fear of enclosed spaces.
  • Agoraphobia: Approximately two-thirds of people with panic disorder develop agoraphobia. This anxiety disorder makes you afraid to be in places or situations where a panic attack might happen. The fear can become so extreme that you become too afraid to leave your house.

What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack

Am I Having a Heart Attack or is it Anxiety

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.

Don’t Miss: Can Antihistamines Cause Heart Palpitations

Differences Between Anxiety And Heart Problems

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.

More articles

Popular Articles