Panic attack vs Heart attack: How to discern one from the other
A heart attack is more lethal than a panic attack as it entails imminent threat and a potential fatality. However, a panic attack may also come as a real shocker because it presents symptoms similar to a heart attack sending people into a tizzy. More often than not, it is difficult to ascertain whether it is a panic attack or a heart attack.
In both cases, people feel pain in the chest and are short of breath. Whether it is a heart attack or a panic attack, any of these symptoms can be overwhelming at that moment.
However, despite having several similarities in symptoms, the two conditions result from very different disease processes. Panic attacks occur when the body’s “fight or flight” response is triggered by stress hormones, often leading to a racing heart, chest pain, and shortness of breath.
On the other hand, a heart attack is caused by a blockage in a coronary artery presenting similar symptoms like the above. When there is an insufficient supply of blood to the heart muscle it results in chest pain, rapid heartbeat, and breathlessness.
Yet, there are differences between them, so also the outcome. A major distinction between a panic attack and a heart attack is that a heart attack often develops during physical exertion, whereas a panic attack can happen while someone is at rest. One wouldn’t have a panic attack after exercise unless triggered by emotional stress.
It is crucial to know a few basic differences between a panic attack and a heart attack
Knowing the differences between a panic attack and a heart attack is the foremost way to deal with either of them in case of any exigency.
An important difference between the two is duration. Panic attacks will soothe gradually and resolve on their own within about 20 minutes. In contrast, a heart attack will often continue and may worsen over time.
A heart attack can be life-threatening and calls for immediate attention every time. Some of the basic symptoms of a heart attack, which one should look for include:
- Chest pain or pressure
- Pounding or a racing heart
- Feeling lightheaded or faint
- Sweating, and at times cold sweats
- Pain or discomfort in the upper body
- Shortness of breath
- Nausea or vomiting
- A feeling of impending doom
One should not wait for the symptoms to subside in these cases and seek immediate medical help.
The most common symptoms of a panic attack, some of which may also be present in the case of a heart attack are:
- A sudden surge in feelings of acute anxiety and fear
- Chest pain
- Difficulty in breathing
- A feeling of an impending doom
- Pounding or racing heart
- Profuse sweating
- Shaking or trembling
- Weakness or feeling dizziness
- Stomach ache or nausea
Although many of the symptoms appear common in both cases, a close look can point out the differences so that necessary steps can be taken to avert any dreaded outcome.
In case of a heart attack pain radiates to other areas like the arm, jaw, or neck, which is a key marker. But, when it is a panic attack the pain will typically stay in the chest. Knowing this basic difference alone and by acting prompt can save lives.
Many people are also paranoid about whether a panic attack might trigger a heart attack. Although a panic attack is unlikely to cause a heart attack, it is not completely ruled out. Emotional stress is a key factor in both conditions. Both panic attacks and heart attacks may occur during or after a stressful event. However, people are most likely to have a panic attack rather than a heart attack in response to emotional stress. So, keeping a tab on the stress level is very important to have a healthy and long life.
Seeking help for mental health
Mental health condition needs immediate attention so that symptoms do not exacerbate and recovery becomes easy and long-lasting. Whether it is anxiety, depression, or any other condition, If you or a loved one is facing any mental health issues, whether it is anxiety, depression, or any other condition, help is available at Athena.
We, at Athena, provide quality anxiety disorder treatments for the long-term recovery of our patients. We are among the best centers that offer anxiety disorder treatment in India. To know more about our various treatment interventions, call us today at our 24/7 dedicated helpline number 9289086193.