Panic Attack or Worse…A Heart Attack?
Differences Between Panic Attack and Heart Attack
Some of the signs and symptoms of anxiety and the signs and symptoms of a heart attack are similar. It's little wonder many anxious people rush themselves to the hospital each year because of a concern about having a heart attack.
Because anxiety and heart attack symptoms can be similar, it's best to seek immediate medical attention if you aren't sure which is being caused by anxiety in which by the heart. Fortunately, most medical professionals can easily tell the difference between anxiety symptoms and heart attack symptoms.
If your doctor says your symptoms are being caused by anxiety, you can feel confident that your doctor's diagnosis is correct. There are differences your doctor can easily differentiate.
How to tell a difference between anxiety and heart attack symptoms?
If you are having a hard time telling the difference between anxiety symptoms and those of a heart attack, here are some things to watch for:
Anxiety generally produces more symptoms than just those similar to a heart attack. For example, anxiety often produces body-wide sensations and symptoms that are dissimilar to those of a heart attack. Again, most doctors can spot the differences easily.
Anxiety generally doesn’t cause people to pass out. Even though you might feel like passing out due to anxiety, most people don't. Yes, some people do, but this is the exception and not the rule.
Hyperventilation is a common cause of symptoms similar to those of a heart attack. Relaxing your breathing and giving your body a few minutes to adjust usually alleviates symptoms that are solely related to hyperventilation and anxiety. So within a few minutes, you should be able to tell the difference as heart attack symptoms generally don’t subside this easily.
Numbness and tingling in the feet is a symptom of anxiety but not usually of a heart attack.
Anxiety often causes a tightness in the throat or a choking feeling. A heart attack generally doesn't.
Anxiety often causes your legs to feel weak or that they won't support you. A heart attack generally doesn't.
While anxiety can make it feel like you need to vomit, most people generally don't. Yes, some people do, but this is the exception not the rule.
Calming yourself down can reduce and eliminate many anxiety symptoms within a few minutes. Calming yourself down does little to alleviate symptoms of a heart attack. While calming yourself down may reduce some of the symptoms of a heart attack, it generally doesn't eliminate them or as easily.
These are just a few ways you can tell the difference between anxiety symptoms and symptoms of a heart attack.
Another consideration is that many people become anxious if they think they are having a heart attack. So anxiety symptoms can coexist with heart attack symptoms. And, being anxious can aggravate heart attack symptoms. While there are some ways to tell the difference, it's best to seek immediate medical attention if you are concerned that you are having a heart attack.
Keep in mind, most medical professionals prefer you seek their assistance if you believe you are having a heart attack. They aren't bothered or annoyed by being cautious. Even if you aren't having a heart attack, it's better to be cautious than uncertain. It's also better for you to know your symptoms are solely anxiety related and not those of a heart attack, as worry is a common cause of anxiety and its sensations and symptoms.
Response to Breath
When you are in a situation where symptoms of either a heart attack or panic attack happen, the first thing to do is to get your bearings. Whether it’s a heart attack or a panic attack, you’re instinctively going to panic. Panicking doesn’t do anyone any good.
Am I having a heart attackTo combat the panic, focus on your breathing. Stress brings on a shallow breath, which denies your lungs oxygen. This only causes you to feel more stress. Re-oxygenate your body. In turn, you will pay less attention to the fact that you are short on breath. Instead, you will gain focus.
As you gather your composure through deep-breathing, your intuitive side will kick in. Listen to your body. What’s hurting. Is there pain somewhere?
In panic attacks, it’s common for your chest to tighten. Try to breathe through the situation for five minutes. If you don’t feel the symptoms easing, then do not hesitate to call 9-1-1.
Can anxiety cause a heart attack?
This is a common concern among anxious personalities. If you have a low risk of having a heart attack, no, anxiety can’t cause a heart attack by itself. If you have an underlying heart condition, however, the stress of being anxious can aggravate your heart condition.
If you have a heart condition and are worried about how being anxious might affect it, it's best to talk with your doctor and work at addressing your anxiety underlying factors so that your body’s stress can become lower overall.
Don’t Ignore the Symptoms of Panic Attack or Heart Attack
Your health is important. That goes for the mental and the physical. There’s a thin line between a panic attack and heart attack symptoms. However, it doesn’t mean you should ignore one or the other. You have one body and one mind. You should make sure both of them are healthy at all times.
The easiest way to tell the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack is to make panic attacks less of a viable option. That way it’s no longer a fire drill. You’ll know when the heart attack is the real deal!
To help fight off panic attacks, you should work on mindfulness. Studies have found that yoga is a great tool to help with anxiety. By marrying breath with movement, you take your mind off triggers that can spark a panic attack.
At the same time, yoga encourages the use of deep-breathing techniques. As we mentioned earlier, when episodes occur, deep-breathing can be essential in putting out the fire before it rages.
Working on panic attacks is a day-to-day process. No one wakes up and feels perfect. You need to work on techniques that will better yourself like eating cleaner, meditating, and taking supplements.