Panic attacks are no joke. In fact, at times they can be so severe that you may think you’re having a heart attack. For anyone having a panic attack, even humoring the thought of it possibly being a heart attack can just worsen the state you’re currently in. But what if you are? Ignoring the symptoms of a heart attack can be a fatal mistake! So how can we tell the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack? Let’s help you differentiate between such a life-and-death situation.
How Could You Confuse a Panic Attack and Heart Attack?
Before you laugh off how someone could be confused between the two, think about it for a moment. What happens in the seconds before a panic attack that also happens prior to a heart attack?
- Shortness of breath
- Anxious feelings
- Tightness in the chest
- Hot flashes
- Increased heart rate
We know. This list shows there are so many similarities between a heart attack and a panic attack. In an article that’s supposed to tell you the differences between the two, it doesn’t leave much room. Don’t fret. Let’s take a look at the significant differences between a heart attack and a panic attack.
Differences Between Panic Attack and Heart Attack
If you’ve never experienced a panic attack or had cardiac issues in your life, it doesn’t make you immune from these conditions. A panic attack or heart attack can happen at any time. Random life events can trigger either episode and forever alter the rest of your existence.
This information may not seem pertinent to your life now. However, over six million Americans battle panic disorders and 735,000 people suffer heart attacks each year. So let’s take a look at the differences between heart attacks and panic attacks.
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.
To 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.
When you are having a panic attack, evaluate the pain you are experiencing. If you’re someone who commonly has panic attacks, ask yourself if this time if it’s a different level of severity. Those who’ve suffered both a heart attack and panic attacks in their life typically note that the heart attack caused a far more crushing feeling in the chest than any panic attack they had ever experienced.
Pains associated with a heart attack tend to travel. The pain will start in the chest and send hot flashes of pain down the left arm and back. If you’re having a heart attack, a tingling in those areas is very common.
Additionally, people who have suffered a heart attack report pain in areas such as:
When having a heart attack, the worst symptoms appear around 10 minutes into the attack.
We’ve discussed the many similarities between the symptoms of a panic attack and heart attack. However, there are differences in some of the main characteristics as well. When you are in the middle of an episode, whether it be a heart attack or panic attack, you are going to freak out. As you breathe your way through, note your thoughts.
When you get through the initial panic of an episode, where do your thoughts go? Are you worried about falling over? Is choking a concern? If you have wild thoughts, you are most likely having a panic attack.
Those who have a heart attack stop fearing. Instead, they start coming to terms with the facts. They realize, “Oh poop! This is the real deal.” You don’t have time for fear. Instead, your instinct kicks in. You realize you have to dial 9-1-1 or yell for help.
Lightheadedness is a common symptom for both a panic attack and heart attack. However, you will not pass out from a panic attack. Whereas, during a heart attack it is very common. If you feel like are going to lose consciousness, let someone know immediately.
Another common symptom of heart attacks that doesn’t happen with panic attacks is vomiting. While both scenarios will cause nausea, those having a panic attack are more concerned with breathing. Those suffering from a heart attack have less control of their faculties, making vomiting probable.
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.
By nourishing your body with all-natural nutrition, you can help balance out your system. A great way to achieve this is to take a supplement formulated to address these specific issues. Supplements like Tranquilene use all-natural ingredients scientifically proven to alleviate symptoms associated with stress.
Suffering panic attacks or having a heart attack can be scary for anyone. Have you ever been in a situation where you thought you were having a panic attack and it turned out to be a heart attack? Let us know in the comments below!