Unless you know the facts, you may mistake the chest pains that normally accompany panic attacks for a heart attack .
Every year, thousands 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 they are 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.
It’s easy to understand how a panic attack can be mistaken for a heart attack ; the two share several common symptoms-with subtle, but recognizable differences. 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 rare, and if tingling is present, the entire body tingles. Hyperventilation almost always precedes a panic attack. Using deep breathing techniques dispel this and combined with relaxation exercises, other panic attack symptoms disappear in less than 5 minutes. 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.
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.
Using the correct techniques and exercises, you can learn to control panic attack symptoms. I’m one of those with anxiety/panic disorders who have benefited from these practices. I’ve learned to overcome the symptoms of panic attack and differentiate them from heart attack symptoms. It takes practice to control panic attack symptoms, but if you learn to recognize the difference between panic and heart attack signs, and you know that what you’re experiencing is only a panic attack, they’ll be much easier to deal with.
If you want to learn more about heart attacks and how to deal with panic attacks, there is a great amount of information on the Internet. Learning the difference between the two kinds of symptoms makes all the difference in how you react to panic attacks!