panic attack/heart attack, how do you know which it is?

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paniccu
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Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1009
   Posted 7/8/2009 8:51 AM (GMT -7)   
I know we've had this discussion before, but a recent event got me thinking. My husband's co-worker lost a friend last week. He had a history of PA and thought he was having one the night he died. He took a Xanax and was waiting for it to kick in the last his wife spoke to him. He actually was having a heart attack. He was only 48. Also, my brother, who died of a heart attack in his sleep last year at 54, had a history of health anxiety and was a very high strung person in general. He was most likely having symptoms of a heart attack during the day. He even jokingly commented to us that he was having one at one point during the day when his arm was hurting him, but noone took his comments seriously because he was laughing about it and then later he said he felt fine. Have any of you had a heart attack or known someone that had one that also has PA that survived? I would really like to know if the feeling was a little bit different and what we can do preventitively so that we know our heart is in good condition. Is going to a cardiologist and having an ekg done and a stress test enough? I don't know what this guys medical history was like, but I was told he had a very healthy lifestyle. I guess I'm just looking for the opinions and experiences of other people. If I went to the ER every time my chest hurt or my arm hurt, I would be in there at least once a week. I can't live like that. My MIL had a heart attack in her 40's and she told me there was no mistaking the feeling. Gosh, I hope she is right!

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/8/2009 9:50 AM (GMT -7)   

Hey paniccu,

Common signs and symptoms of a heart attack include:

  • Pressure, fullness or a squeezing pain in the center of your chest that lasts for more than a few minutes
  • Pain extending beyond your chest to your shoulder, arm, back, or even to your teeth and jaw
  • Increasing episodes of chest pain
  • Prolonged pain in the upper abdomen
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating
  • Impending sense of doom
  • Fainting
  • Nausea and vomiting

Signs and symptoms of a heart attack in women may be different or less noticeable than heart attack symptoms in men. In addition to the symptoms above, heart attack symptoms in women can include:

  • Abdominal pain or "heartburn"
  • Clammy skin
  • Lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Unusual or unexplained fatigue

Not all people who have heart attacks experience the same ones or experience them to the same degree. Many heart attacks aren't as dramatic as the ones you've seen on TV. Some people have no symptoms at all. Still, the more signs and symptoms you have, the greater the likelihood that you may be having a heart attack.

A heart attack can occur anytime — at work or play, while you're resting, or while you're in motion. Some heart attacks strike suddenly, but many people who experience a heart attack have warning signs and symptoms hours, days or weeks in advance. The earliest predictor of an attack may be recurrent chest pain (angina) that's triggered by exertion and relieved by rest. Angina is caused by temporary, insufficient blood flow to the heart, also known as "cardiac ischemia." Reference: Mayo Clinic Staff

In general, the type of chest pain you will feel with a heart condition is more like someone is sitting on your chest.  Physicians describe this as a “crushing” sensation.

Chest pain from an anxiety attack is usually described as a “tense” or “tight” feeling in the chest.  Sometimes, the tightness in the chest will also be accompanied by a feeling that your heart is beating really intensely and fast, or like your heart is about to leap out of your chest.

Problems with the heart will also often lead to radiating symptoms.  What that means is that you may also experience traveling pain or other sensations in your arm (usually the left arm), jaw, upper back, or neck.  This isn’t the case every time, but it is very typical with heart problems.

Chest pain of any type should be evaluated by a qualified doctor to rule out the possibility of a more serious health condition. If in doubt, error on the side of safety.

Hope this info helps.

Kitt


 

Kitt,
Moderator: Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn
Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
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"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
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paniccu
Veteran Member


Date Joined Apr 2005
Total Posts : 1009
   Posted 7/9/2009 5:58 AM (GMT -7)   
Thanks Kitt. It does help a little. It just scares me when someone young and seemingly healthy just keels over dies. I guess you just never know when your time is up. I can't worry about it all the time. One day at a time, right?

stkitt
Forum Moderator


Date Joined Apr 2007
Total Posts : 32602
   Posted 7/9/2009 6:34 AM (GMT -7)   

paniccu,

Yes you are right on,  on day at a time and stay in the moment.  Enjoy today and look around you for all the good in your life.  This is a new day.

Hugs

Kitt


 

Kitt,
Moderator: Osteoarthritis, GERD/Heartburn
Anxiety/Panic, & Depression
*~*
http://www.healingwell.com/donate *~*
"When you find peace within yourself, you become the kind of person who can live at peace with others."
Not a mental health professional of any kind


sukay
Veteran Member


Date Joined Feb 2003
Total Posts : 1432
   Posted 7/9/2009 8:59 AM (GMT -7)   
yeah, I've been to ER a few times thinking I was having a heart attack!
 
I had the chest pain/tightness, radiating down the arm & into the shoulder, nausea, etc.  This last time before I left for the ER, I told my hubby, who had suffered a heart attack that "This pain is so intense...if this is not a heart attack, I don't know what is!"
 
They did the ekgs, blood work, echo stress, overnight evaluations, etc. Everything comes back Great!
 
Bottom line from the cardiologist:  ALWAYS come in a get it check out.  I told them that I would be the one known as, "that's the lady who comes in every month thinking she is having a heart attack!" ...lol  He told me not to take chances because the symptoms are so similar that you have to get it checked out if you're not sure.
 
On thing he did tell me is that if the pain lasts longer than 15 min., get it checked out.  Scary thought!!!
 

Aries8
Veteran Member


Date Joined Dec 2008
Total Posts : 1015
   Posted 7/9/2009 11:05 AM (GMT -7)   
Sukay, what you said is right on. Most of us who suffer from chest pain, a racing heart or a feeling of skipped beats have gone to a cardiologist and been told our hearts are healthy. That's the first step to take if you have recurring chest pain. Get yourself checked out.

Also, Sukay mentioned that if pain goes on for longer than 15 minutes, get help. I've read this, also. Better safe than sorry.

I was sorry to hear about these people in their 40's and 50's dying of heart attacks. It's very sad! My heart goes out to their families.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
 
60 mg. Prozac, Ativan as needed.
 
"Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire."

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