February is American Heart Month. #OurHearts promotes cardiovascular health through awareness and tips for how to improve heart health. Approximately 885,000 Americans experience a heart attack annually. Meanwhile, 11% (~36 million) of the American population deals with at least one panic attack every year. These statistics leave a lot of room for overlap and confusion between these two health events.
Panic attack symptoms are very similar to those of a heart attack. Since panic attacks can be common occurrences for those who experience them, it’s easy to ignore what might actually be signs of a heart attack.
Knowing if you’re having a panic attack vs heart attack can be a matter of life and death. Let’s discuss differences in the signs of a heart attack vs panic attack symptoms. Then, we’ll suggest how to improve heart health naturally. That way, you’ll be less likely to question if you’re having a panic attack or heart attack.
What Are Panic Attack Symptoms?
Almost 10 million Americans are diagnosed with a panic disorder. With 36 million experiencing panic attack symptoms at least once per year, there could be millions living undiagnosed.
Common signs of a panic attack include:
- Stabbing Chest Pains
- Tingling Hands and Face
- Increased Heart Rate
- Racing Thoughts
- Shortness of Breath
Panic attack symptoms can be expected and unexpected. For instance, the anticipation of a job review, wedding, or impending altercation with a friend can create signs of a panic attack. The mere thought of said stressor can cause chest pain or trouble breathing.
Unexpected panic attacks happen at the moment. Phobias or real-time incidents usually cause them. These panic attack symptoms can be caused by anything from too many people in an elevator to learning about a loved one’s death.
What Are Signs of a Heart Attack?
The lines between symptoms of a panic attack vs heart attack can get a bit blurry. While panic attacks can be crippling and life-altering, the symptoms should pass with time. Heart attack symptoms will persist and become life-threatening.
Heart attack symptoms include:
- Intense Chest Pressure
- Shortness of Breath
- Tingling Sensations Throughout Body
- Worsening Pain with Time, Especially in Arms, Shoulders, Jaw
- Nausea and Vomiting
Heart attacks happen when blood flow is cut off to the heart. These blockages cause high blood pressure. If you have high blood pressure, you are at an increased risk of having a heart attack.
High blood pressure and other heart-related illnesses, such as atherosclerosis, happen over time. They create an environment conducive to a heart attack.
Therefore, it can be common to experience signs of a heart attack weeks leading up to a cardiac episode. If you experience signs of a panic attack or heart attack that last more than a half-hour, please consider seeing a cardiologist for a check-up.
Differences in Panic Attack vs Heart Attack
Due to their similar symptoms, it can be challenging to tell the difference between a panic attack vs heart attack. Differentiating between the two can become more challenging if you’ve never experienced a heart attack or panic attack symptoms before. Here are some tips for figuring out if you’re having a panic attack or heart attack.
Type of Chest Pain
Imagine someone on television having a heart attack or panic attack. What is the first thing an actor tends to do? They grab their chest!
Chest pains are common signs of a panic attack and heart attack. However, these pains’ characteristics and durations are pivotal for determining if you’re having a panic attack vs heart attack.
During a panic attack, chest pains are very centralized. Sharp pains occur in the chest. This discomfort tends to remain local, typically lasting 20 to 30 minutes. With time, these pains will cease.
Heart attack pain usually starts in the chest. You’ll notice more pressure on the chest than sharp pains.
Eventually, this pain will start to travel. Those experiencing heart attack symptoms can feel surges of pain move from the heart to the shoulders, hands, legs, and jaw. The pain can worsen with time.
Please contact 911 if you believe you are having a heart attack. If your cardiologist recommends nitroglycerin or aspirin, take as directed while you wait for help.
Most heart attacks happen after the body endures physical stress, like climbing stairs or shoveling snow. The muscle gets overworked, can’t keep up with the rhythm, and causes a cardiac episode.
A heart attack is a physical response caused by electrical currents in your body. In comparison, a panic attack is more mental.
If you are experiencing a panic attack or heart attack, think of where your thoughts go. Listen to your primal instincts.
Are you getting more anxious thinking about the prospect of dying? That can be an indicator of a panic attack.
Is your mind going towards calling 911 or getting help? This more proactive reaction is a sign of a heart attack. Your body is aware that something more serious is going on. Instead of worrying about dying, you’re doing something to prevent it from happening.
Length of Symptoms
Panic attacks are fleeting. They tend to last up to 30 minutes. Symptoms tend to be the worst in the first ten minutes.
During this time, you might experience the panic attack symptoms festering. Then, you get the emotions under control. Eventually, the physical symptoms will cease.
Heart attacks tend to get progressively worse, especially if it’s a severe case. The symptoms will travel and start to impact other parts of the body. If symptoms persist past 30 minutes, please call 911.
Can a Panic Attack Cause a Heart Attack?
Panic attacks can cause immense stress. So, it’s easy to assume this pressure can cause someone to have a heart attack. However, panic attacks aren’t known to cause cardiac episodes directly.
With that said, panic attacks are a symptom of anxiety disorders. Studies suggest that people with anxiety disorders are at an increased risk of developing a heart condition.
Stress and anxiety impact heart rate. These varying degrees of influence on our heart health can train this muscle to follow an irregular beat.
Most commonly, anxiety can perpetuate low heart rate variability (HRV). The body is designed to fluctuate its HRV. It adapts depending on whatever situations we face.
When we have low HRV, it can take longer between each heartbeat. Proper adjustment doesn’t happen throughout the day accordingly. Therefore, when someone strains themselves physically through exercise or manual labor, a low HRV can trigger a heart attack.
Additionally, irregular heartbeats (arrhythmia) can disrupt electrical currents in the body. As a result, those with anxiety disorders can also be more susceptible to cardiac arrest.
If you have an anxiety issue, I find Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene extremely helpful. This all-natural blend of herbs, vitamins, and minerals is formulated to improve natural GABA and serotonin production.
With these vital brain chemicals, I am able to notice my panic attack symptoms as they manifest. Then, I can use techniques, such as deep-breathing exercises and guided meditation.
Daily mental health support lessens the symptoms of panic attacks that are also common with heart attacks. By experiencing fewer panic attacks, it can be easier to rule them out. So, if I start to get shortness of breath or shooting chest pains, I am more likely to know if it’s a panic attack or heart attack.
Can a Heart Attack Cause a Panic Attack?
When you experience a heart attack, it can also trigger a panic attack. At the moment of a heart attack, you are feeling intense pains.
Plus, you fear for your life. All of these extreme stressors can undoubtedly be a reason for panic.
If you believe you are having a heart attack, try to stay present. Don’t let your mind wander.
How to Improve Heart Health
Another way to differentiate between a panic attack and a heart attack is to improve your heart health. If you have a healthy heart, the signs of a panic attack are most likely to be just that — a panic attack. Ruling out a heart attack in the moment of an actual panic attack can make the panic attack symptoms more bearable.
Your heart is a muscle. Without proper workouts, it can atrophy. Eventually, your heart won’t be as strong. Your system won’t push blood through arteries as effectively.
Ultimately, a weak heart can cause many health-related issues. Namely, it can cause cardiovascular disease and make you susceptible to a heart attack.
According to the American Heart Association (AHA), you should get at least 150 minutes per week of moderate cardio. They also recommend 75 minutes of intense cardio training.
If you have a heart condition, you must be careful when increasing your cardiovascular work intensity. However, don’t use heart disease as an excuse not to do cardio. Even 10 minutes of light walking every day can help boost your heart health.
Stress is an essential factor in poor heart health and recurring panic attacks. When we endure stress, it increases levels of cortisol and adrenaline in the body. These hormones keep us on high alert.
Think about when you’re feeling tense. It puts a lot of strain on your heart. That’s why people with anxiety disorders are at a higher risk of developing low HRV.
As I mentioned, Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene helps bring balance to mental hormones. With more serotonin and GABA in the system, it leaves less room for adrenaline and cortisol. Your heart and mind will be more relaxed.
There are many ways to manage stress. For one, avoid stressful situations. Think about people, scenarios, and tasks that negatively impact your life. Then, come up with ways to make these situations more pleasant. Otherwise, cut them from your life!
Yoga and exercise are also excellent ways to burn off stress. They help you channel anxious energy into physical practices. In turn, your body rewards you with feel-good hormones.
Also, exercise and yoga help burn fat. Excess fat can lead to many mental and heart health issues, including high blood pressure and obesity.
Lastly, you can help manage your stress through mindfulness. Meditation is a free and effective way to lower your blood pressure and risk of panic attacks. You can also get into the right headspace for meditation through essential oils.
Essential oils are teeming with plant-based molecules called terpenes. These aromatic chemicals interact with regions in the brain that influence our moods.
Eat Heart-Healthy Foods
Research shows there is a distinct correlation between diet and heart disease. The foods we eat can cause everything from plaques that clog arteries to obesity that raises cholesterol to cause inflammation that creates illness.
Aim to cut down on:
- Red Meat and Dairy
- Refined Sugars and Baked Goods
- Highly-Processed Foods
Instead, eat more whole foods. Try incorporating more plant-based proteins and fish into your diet. Fish and lean protein options contain omega-3 fatty acids, which produce brain-boosting chemicals.
Meanwhile, vegetable proteins are rich in dietary fibers. Fiber helps flush the system of fat and other compounds that might impact mental hand heart health.
Tranquility Labs’ Pure Olive Leaf Extract
One of the best ways to manage your heart health is through consistent daily routines. Exercise routines and healthy eating practices can fluctuate day-to-day. It’s much easier to stick to less time-consuming rituals, like taking heart supplements.
Results found, “Olive (Olea europaea) leaf extract, at the dosage regimen of 500 mg twice daily, was similarly effective in lowering systolic and diastolic blood pressures in subjects with stage-1 hypertension as Captopril, given at its effective dose of 12.5–25 mg twice daily.”
What makes olive leaf extract one of the best heart supplements is that it contains compounds known as polyphenols. In particular, olive leaf extract has an abundance of oleuropein and hydroxytyrosol.
Studies on these polyphenols show that these plant compounds help modulate heart health. They act as vasodilators, meaning that they relax blood vessels. Therefore, blood vessels can make it more efficiently through arteries plagued with plaques and fatty build-ups.
With blood circulating more freely, it puts less strain on the heart. However, it also helps the heart get a mild workout. This fine balance is perfect for someone in need of heart supplements.
What to Do About a Panic Attack or Heart Attack
If you are showing signs of a panic attack or heart attack, please seek safety. Make sure you’re not doing any strenuous activities or driving a car. Stop doing these activities and seek help, if needed.
As heart attack symptoms persist, try to think where your head goes. Is this a physical response from your body or emotional response from your mind? If pain moves or symptoms persist longer than a half-hour, please seek help immediately.
Never feel uncomfortable calling 911, even if it’s a false alarm. When it comes to your health, it’s better to be safe and sorry. If you go to the hospital and find out your heart is in good condition, you know it was a panic attack. I highly recommend working on your mental health to prevent confusion in the future. Be sure to exercise, change your diet, and use Tranquility Labs’ Tranquilene.
In the event you did suffer a cardiac episode, please make the necessary changes to your heart health routine. Manage stress, cut back on unhealthy foods, and use all-natural heart supplements, like Tranquility Labs’ Olive Leaf Extract.
Whether you’re having a panic attack or heart attack, neither is a walk in the park. By working on your physical and mental health, you can prolong or prevent the occurrence of both. Put your mind to making these healthy lifestyle changes, and your heart will follow!
- There are a lot of similarities between heart attack and pain attack symptoms
- Signs of a panic attack tend to end within a half-hour, while heart attack symptoms worsen with time
- A heart attack can cause a panic attack
- Tips to improve your heart health to lessen chances of a heart attack