If you were sitting at a restaurant and your chest started to feel tight and your heart began to race, what would you do? Your mind may have a difficult time telling the difference between a heart attack and a panic attack. While both are alarming, it is important to recognize which one you are experiencing. Dr. Regina Chiu, a cardiologist with Prairie Cardiovascular says that there are some significant differences between the two.
A heart attack can occur when blood flow is unable to reach the heart. Symptoms of a heart attack include tightness in the chest, back, neck, or arms. There can be extreme fatigue, anxiety, and lightheadedness. Dr. Chiu says more than one million Americans will suffer a heart attack over the next year.
A panic attack is often a sudden feeling of fear or anxiety and while they are not life-threatening, they can still be of great concern especially if you experience frequent panic attacks. Symptoms of a panic attack include feelings of strong anxiety or fear, hyperventilating, chest discomfort or racing heart, shaking or trembles, dizziness or nausea, and sweating.
The location of the pain often can determine the severity of the situation and if the chest pain stays in one location it may be a panic attack. If it starts to radiate through the neck, back, or arms, seek medical care immediately. Panic attacks only last a couple of minutes to an hour at most. If those symptoms do not let up, get help.
For an appointment with a Prairie Cardiologist, you can call ACCESS Prairie at 757-6120 or 888-4PRAIRIE. You can also visit www.prairieheart.org.