Differentiating Between Panic & Heart Attack Symptoms

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It is quite common for people to mistakenly assume that they’re having a heart attack when they are only going through a panic attack and for those who are familiar with panic attacks to assume they’re having a panic attack when they’re actually having a heart attack.

Differentiating Between Panic & Heart Attack SymptomsPanic & heart attack symptoms seem similar but with some knowledge you can easily differentiate between the two.

Let’s address the symptoms of both panic attack and heart attack first. Someone going through a panic attack will of course feel disillusioned and will have difficulty differentiating reality from fantasy. Accompanying these feelings will also be chest pain, hyperventilating, increased heartbeats and feeling nauseous. With a heart attack the symptoms are also somewhat similar as in chest pain, vomiting and sometimes a tingly feeling.

If we study further, we can learn to distinguish the slight differences that occur with each problem.

Panic attacks vs heart attack

Panic Attack Heart Attack
Chest pains are sharp and only appear in the heart region.
The pain increasing due to hard breathing.
The chest pain ceases after the peak of the attack in about 10 minutes.
Chest pains may not necessarily happen and if it does, it more of a squashing pain, like someone squashing your heart.
The pain is in the middle of the chest and can extend to just the left arm area, neck area and the back of the body.
The pain is not increased by breathing.
The chest pain is continuous and usually lasts a lot longer than 10 minutes.
Tingly feeling is felt throughout the body. Tingly feeling if present at all is confined to the left arm.
The person will feel nauseous but will hardly vomit. Vomiting is quite common.
Hyperventilation or quick and hard breathing occurs before every attack. There is no hyperventilation during a heart attack perhaps just a shortness of breath.

As you can see from the table above, there are definite differences to both panic & heart attack symptoms. To the untrained eye they might look similar but upon closer observation you can recognize the difference. That is why it is so important to call for medical assistance as soon as these symptoms are being shown because while panic attacks are generally harmless, heart attacks on the other hand can be potentially deadly if not given immediate medical attention.

If you’re wondering can a panic attack lead to a heart attack, the answer is probably ‘no’ unless accompanied by other pre-existing medical conditions. However it is possible for someone who is having a heart attack to panic and portray symptoms of both conditions.

Whatever the panic & heart attack symptoms may be, one thing for sure is that both the attacks need treatment, one more urgently than the other.

Panic attacks won’t cause death but it is quite a torture living in the state of anxiety all the time being afraid to do anything that might potentially cause an attack. A heart attack on the other hand needs immediate attention if you don’t want to lose your life and it is no laughing matter.

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