Distinguish a panic attack from a heart attack – VnExpress

Panic attacks and heart attacks share many of the same symptoms, some heart attacks occur as a result of exertion, and last longer than panic attacks.

The symptoms of a panic attack and a heart attack are similar, making it difficult to distinguish. Symptoms of a panic attack may include: sharp pain in the chest, tingling in the hands, trouble breathing, heart palpitations, sweating, shaking. Panic attacks can occur singly or as a sign of panic disorder.

Symptoms of a heart attack include: chest tightness, shortness of breath, nausea, vomiting, and sweating. Although the symptoms of the two conditions are similar, knowing the difference can help you handle a critical situation. Here are some factors that show the difference.

Panic attacks and heart attacks share many of the same symptoms, including chest pain. Image: Freepik

Characteristics of pain

Chest pain is a common symptom with both panic attacks and heart attacks, but the characteristics of the pain often vary. During panic attacks, the chest pain is often sharp or stabbing, localized in the center of the chest.

Chest pain from a heart attack can feel like pressure or a tight feeling. Chest pain caused by a heart attack can also start in the center of the chest, but can then spread from the chest to the arms, jaw, or shoulder blades.

Initiation sign

The onset of symptoms can also help a person determine if they are having a heart attack or panic attack. Both of these conditions can develop suddenly and without warning. However, some heart attacks still occur due to exertion, such as climbing stairs.


The duration of symptoms can also help distinguish a panic attack from a heart attack. Most panic attacks will go away in a few minutes. Whereas with a heart attack, the symptoms tend to last longer, getting worse over time. For example, chest pain may be mild at the start of a heart attack but become severe after a few minutes.

Panic doesn’t cause a heart attack

A blockage in one or more blood vessels to the heart, resulting in an interruption of vital blood flow, causes a heart attack. While panicking doesn’t cause a heart attack, stress and anxiety can still contribute to the development of coronary heart disease. Panic attacks can occur as a separate condition or as part of an anxiety disorder.

Some studies indicate that, the People with anxiety disorders may be at increased risk of developing heart disease due to low heart rate variability (HRV). Heart rate variability is the time between each heartbeat. The autonomic nervous system controls heart rate. Heart rate varies throughout the day, depending on a person’s activity and emotions.

A high HRV shows how effectively a person’s heart rate changes throughout the day, based on what they do. It is also a sign that the autonomic nervous system is working well. A low HRV means the heart doesn’t change its rate as efficiently. Some studies link low HRV with an increased risk of heart disease.

In the researchers’ analysis of HRV in people diagnosed with a variety of anxiety disorders, including panic disorder, the results showed that the participants had a lower HRV than those without the disorder. concerned.

Importantly, just because you have a panic attack does not mean you will have a heart attack. A person with panic disorder may experience repeated panic attacks. However, experts need to do more research to determine if panic disorder increases the risk of developing heart disease.

Because the symptoms of a panic attack and a heart attack are similar, people should see a doctor when in doubt. In particular, you need emergency medical treatment if you have any of these symptoms including: sudden, severe chest pain; pressure in the chest that lasts more than 2-3 minutes; chest pain that radiates down the arm or jaw.

Chau Vu (Follow Medical News Today)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *