Anxiety or Heart Problem: Signs and Symptoms
Anxiety and heart attacks share many of the same symptoms, but in reality, they are very different conditions. Anxiety or panic attacks are the body’s natural response to a fight-or-flight situation, although the cause of one of these attacks usually isn’t dangerous!
Heart attacks occur when blood is unable to flow through the heart’s arteries, depriving the body of oxygen. Since one of these conditions is non-threatening while the other is very dangerous, it’s important to know the difference between anxiety or a heart problem. Heart problems and anxiety can happen whether or not you have a history with them. Both of them may seem very similar because many of their symptoms are identical!
Both conditions include:
- Chest Pain
- Difficulty Breathing or Shortness of Breath
- Intense Feeling of Doom
- Lightheadedness or Feeling Faint
- Rapid Heartbeat
- Weak or Tingling Feeling in Limbs
It’s no wonder why telling the difference between the two is difficult! The most accurate way to determine if you have anxiety or heart problems is to visit your doctor. They can determine your heart’s health as well as your stress and anxiety levels.
Differences Between Anxiety and Heart Problems
As you can see, anxiety and heart problems have remarkably similar symptoms!
While not as accurate a professional diagnosis, there are subtle differences between anxiety and heart problems which you may be able to determine at home.
- The chest pain from an anxiety attack is sharper and more localized, while the pain from a heart attack is duller and radiates more
- Anxiety attacks stem from a mental and not a physical cause
- Anxiety attacks rarely cause vomiting
- Heart attack pain may occur in the back or shoulders, while anxiety pain does not
And remember – anxiety and heart problems can happen to people who have never had issues with either.
If you have any doubts at all about whether you are experiencing anxiety or heart problems, contact your doctor. They will be able to determine which you are experiencing and advise you as to what to do next.
What to Do If Experiencing a Heart Problem
If you suspect you are experiencing a heart problem, you should consult with your doctor and describe your symptoms and concerns.
If you may be experiencing a heart attack or stroke, call 9-1-1 or have a friend or family member take you to the Emergency Room. It’s always best to be safe!
Can Anxiety Cause Heart Problems?
Heart problems originate from many sources, including lifestyle and genetics. Anxiety may be one of these contributing factors, but this relationship has not yet been proven.
Nonetheless, if there is a connection between anxiety and heart problems, it would most likely be an effect seen in the long run. Our hearts are designed to handle the occasional stressful situation. Prolonged periods of anxiety, however, may cause heart problems.
Anxiety can cause Tachycardia, or rapid heart rate. While anxiety doesn’t cause hypertension, it can cause high blood pressure. The extra strain on the heart from continued anxiety may be more damaging to someone who has an existing heart condition.
Anxiety may also increase the amount of time required to recover from a heart condition.
Can Stress Cause Heart Problems?
Stress is a proven cause of heart problems – mainly heart disease. While the exact reasons how are still uncertain, people who are regularly exposed to stressful situations – or who do not manage their stress – have a greater chance of developing heart disease.
Excessive stress can lead to many negative effects on the body, both physical and mental. Some people cope with high stress situations by drinking too much or smoking, both of which wear down the body. Others may develop hypertension, ulcers, and many other conditions, all of which are additional stressors on the body.
Everyday life is full of challenges, both at home and at work. Taking time out of your day to de-stress can help you relax in the short term, and reduce your risk of developing heart disease later in life!
Get Help at Florida Medical Clinic
Excessive stress and anxiety can be damaging to your body and your heart, but it can be very difficult to tell them apart! That’s where Florida Medical Clinic comes in. If you have a heart condition, or suspect you may have one, our Cardiology Department can evaluate, diagnose, and treat many different types of heart conditions. Request an Appointment with our convenient online system today!