Panic Attack vs Heart Attack – Do You Know the Difference?

Panic Attack vs Heart Attack

Unfortunately, having a panic attack and experiencing a heart attack can feel very similar.  While they do often present symptoms that are alike, be assured that they are two very different occurrences. If you find yourself or a loved one exhibiting any of these scary symptoms, it can be a very stressful situation to deal with.  Knowing the how to tell the difference between a panic attack vs heart attack can save you a great deal of stress and possibly even save a life.

If you think you may be experiencing a heart attack, please seek emergency medical attention.

Heart Attacks

A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. This happens when the coronary arteries that supply the heart with blood become harder and thicker over time from a buildup of fat, cholesterol, and plaque. When this plaque breaks, a blood clot forms that blocks the blood flow, and a heart attack occurs. Heart attacks can be life-threatening.

Panic Attacks

A panic attack is a symptom of panic disorder, one of the most treatable of the anxiety disorders. They often happen without warning and can cause extreme fear and nervousness for at least 10 minutes or more.  Although there is no exact cause of panic disorder, researchers relate it to the combination of certain environmental and biological conditions such as family history, extreme stress, and alcohol/drug abuse. Panic attacks are not life-threatening.

Panic Attack vs Heart Attack – The Similarities

The symptoms of a panic attack can present themselves in the same way symptoms of a heart attack do, often creating confusion about whether it is actually a panic attack vs heart attack.  Here are some of the symptoms that might occur during both:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Heart palpitations/chest pain
  • Dizziness/vertigo
  • Numbness of hands and feet
  • Sweating
  • Sense of doom

If you are unsure, seek immediate emergency medical attention. Since heart attacks can be deadly, it is always best to assume you are having a heart attack.

Panic Attack vs Heart Attack – The Differences

Although the symptoms may present the same for a panic attack and heart attacks, there are differences that enable you to distinguish the two. Here are some of the main differences to be aware of:

  • Chest Pain – When having a heart attack, a person will experience escalating chest pain that becomes severe within only a few minutes, while anxiety attack chest pain feels like a sharp/stabbing short-lived pain that lasts only a few seconds.
  • Exertion of Energy – Heart attack pain is typically caused by exertion such as exercising or working, while anxiety attack pain usually occurs while at rest.
  • Deep Breathing – One way to determine if you are having a panic attack vs heart attack is to take deep breaths. You can “deep-breathe” your way out of a panic attack, but you absolutely cannot breathe your way out of a heart attack. When symptoms occur, take deep breaths in through your nose and exhale through your mouth several times. If it is a panic attack, you will calm down, if it is a heart attack, it will be painful.
  • Constant Pain -Constant pain, pressure, or aching in the chest area are signs that you are having a heart attack. Pain also radiates from the chest to other areas like the left arm, abdomen, back, shoulders, neck, and jaw. Panic attack pain is typically is located in just one small area and changes when you change positions.

How Chiropractic Care Can Help

You may be surprised to learn that chiropractic care can help relieve anxiety attacks. The team at BackFit Health + Spine in Phoenix, Arizona will work to find the root cause of your symptoms. They will help you manage those frightening anxiety attack symptoms without the harmful side effects caused by medication. By lowering your blood pressure and stress levels via chiropractic adjustments, patients have seen significant improvement is anxiety attack symptoms and are able to lead a more fulfilling life. Contact us here at [backfit] for a complimentary assessment to get relief from anxiety attacks today.

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