Is it a heart attack or a panic attack?
Many a time, panic attacks are mistaken for heart attacks. Though it takes medical tests to conclusively decide what the diagnosis is, here are some key differences. However, looking at the context, symptoms and factors leading up to it can throw up some vital clues.
Causes of panic attacks and heart attacks
The cause of panic attacks is related to mental health and could be linked to panic disorders, obsessive compulsive disorders and social anxiety disorder. The cause of heart attacks on the other hand is more related to physical factors such as age, body weight, blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diet and so on.
Panic vs heart attacks
The nature of the pain is different in panic attacks and heart attacks. In panic attacks, patients usually complain of a sharp chest pain or pain in a small area. This is usually described as a “stabbing" pain that mostly lasts for 5 to 10 seconds. The pain may get relieved or worsened when you change positions. Panic attacks last a maximum of ten minutes while heart attacks may be experienced for a longer period.
Pain during a heart attack usually feels more like a pressure than a pain, as if the chest is being pressed by something. No doubt some heart attacks feel like strong pain. However, it might start out feeling like pressure and even a squeezing sensation that may go down either arm. Shortness of breath is another symptom to watch out for.
Heart attacks to a great extent happen after physical exertion or being very angry or upset. Panic attacks do not have such causative factors and may take place during any state of mind – calm or anxious. A panic attack may not require immediate attention but a heart attack definitely does.
This article is just meant to share information and not a substitute for a doctor or immediate medical attention.