Panic attack vs. heart attack: How to tell the difference
A sudden bout of chest pain, shortness of breath and shakiness is enough to send anyone reeling and off to the emergency room. But these symptoms don’t always mean there’s a problem with the heart.
Sometimes, these symptoms indicate a different condition: A panic attack.
A heart attack occurs when the arteries that supply the heart with blood become narrowed from a buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances.
Most heart attacks involve chest discomfort in the form of pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain. Other heart attack signs and symptoms include shortness of breath, cold sweats, nausea, lightheadedness, and arm, neck or jaw discomfort.
Because people commonly link chest pain and these other symptoms to a heart attack, they understandably fear the worst when such symptoms come on intensely or abruptly.
But many of the same sensations occur with a panic attack.
On top of a sometimes overwhelming anxiety or fear, a panic attack may cause physical signs and symptoms like:
- A pounding or racing heart
- Sweating or chills
- Trembling or shaking
- Breathing problems
- Dizziness or weakness
- Tingly or numb hands
- Chest or stomach pain
These signs and symptoms often come on suddenly and peak within minutes. A panic attack may occur as a result of a frightening or stressful situation, or may even occur out of the blue.
Telling the difference between a heart attack and a panic attack
It’s important to understand the way the symptoms of a panic attack differ from those of a heart attack. These differences may be subtle — but recognizing them will help you know how to respond when symptoms occur.
More likely a panic attack:
- Sudden onset or onset with extreme stress
- Sharp, stabbing pain in the chest
- Pain that remains in the middle of the chest
- Pain that improves over time
- Racing heart, shakiness, tingling hands
- Symptoms that resolve within 30 minutes
- A history of anxiety and worry
More likely a heart attack:
- Sudden onset or onset during physical exertion
- Squeezing pain and pressure in the chest
- Pain that radiates to the arm, jaw, shoulder blades or back
- Pain that worsens over time
- Nausea and vomiting
- Longer lasting symptoms
- A personal or family history of heart-related risk factors
If you’re ever in doubt of your symptoms, don’t delay in seeking medical care. And if you have a history of heart attack, seek immediate medical attention if you experience any symptoms that resemble another heart attack.
For more information, please click here:https://www.mayoclinic.org/connected-care/panic-attack-vs-heart-attack-how-to-tell-the-difference/cpt-20469325?mc_id=us&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=sm&utm_content=postheart&utm_campaign=mayoclinic&geo=national&placementsite=enterprise&invsrc=heart&cauid=114558