A heart attack and a panic attack have very similar symptoms. For example, an individual may feel pain in his chest and be short of breath during both of these. The type of pain, however, is often different, and shortness of breath during a panic attack can often be controlled. A panic attack and a heart attack are also typically caused by different things.
One of the most common symptoms of a heart attack is chest pain. During a heart attack, this pain is often quite severe, and many times it will feel like a constant, crushing pressure. Chest pain can radiate to other parts of the body during a heart attack, including the back, neck, and left arm. Sometimes there may also be numbness or tingling.
The severity, type, and location of chest pain is one of the major differences between a heart attack and a panic attack. In the event of a panic attack, the chest pain is usually an intermittent stabbing pain that is less severe than pain associated with a heart attack. Also, chest pain during a panic attack typically does not spread to other parts of the body.
Shortness of breath is another common symptom of both a heart attack and a panic attack. When an individual experiences this symptom, it is usually very severe. It may feel as though there is an intense weight on his chest. Unlike a panic attack, someone suffering a heart attack can not catch his breath. Fingernails and lips may become pale or bluish during a heart attack because the blood lacks oxygen.
Shortness of breath during a panic attack is often due to the person hyperventilating. During less severe panic attacks, the individual may be able to calm down enough to catch his breath. Other times, he may have to breathe into a bag.
A heart attack and a panic attack are generally have different causes. Before a heart attack, an individual will often be partaking in some type of strenuous physically activity such as running or climbing stairs. Individuals who are experiencing a panic attack, on the other hand, are usually in a particularly uncomfortable, stressful, or frightening situation.
Other similar signs indicating a heart attack and a panic attack include sweating, and a racing heart or heart palpitations. Since symptoms may differ from person to person, prompt medical attention is advised if an individual suspects he may be suffering from a heart attack. Only a physician can positively rule out the possibility of a heart attack. Sometimes individuals with these symptoms may dismiss them, thinking that they are mild enough to be a panic attack when they actually have had a heart attack.