Cardiologist Femi Showole, D.O., works with patients who have a variety of cardiac-related conditions such as coronary artery disease, atherosclerosis, peripheral vascular disease, valvular and structural heart disease, congenital heart defects and other complex cardiac conditions.
My heart is racing, and I’ve been feeling chest pain. Am I having a panic attack, or a heart attack?
Symptoms associated with heart attacks and panic attacks are similar, and can often be confused. To further complicate things, stress and anxiety can often be a contributing factor to heart attacks, so the relationship between the two is complicated.
What are the symptoms of a heart attack?
Heart attack symptoms include chest pain that increases in severity, constant pain, pressure, fullness or aching in the chest area, pain or discomfort that radiates from the chest to other areas like the arms, back or jaw, pain that is brought on by exertion and shortness of breath.
And what about the symptoms of a panic attack?
Panic attack symptoms include an increased heart rate, sharp or stabbing chest pain that is localized to one small area, usually occurs at rest, accompanies anxiety, and is relieved or worsened when you change positions. In addition, the pain can usually be reproduced or worsened by pressing over the area of pain.
What if I’ve suffered panic attacks in the past, and I think I might be having another one?
If you’re experiencing something similar to a stress-related episode you’ve had in the past, practice deep breathing, meditation or a similar technique that has worked for you to see if the symptoms subside. If they don’t, it’s time to seek help.
If I’m still not sure, when should I get medical help?
If you’re not sure about your symptoms, and are concerned you may be having a heart attack, call 911 to get an immediate evaluation. People tend to minimize their symptoms, telling