Understanding Panic Attack vs Heart Attack in Washington: Local Statistics and Symptoms

Explore the differences between a panic attack vs heart attack and how We Level Up Washington offers essential support and treatment! Reach out to us!

Understanding the big difference between a panic attack vs heart attack could be helpful for health management. Both can have almost identical symptoms that people may not be able to distinguish without knowing the two conditions. We Level Up Washington is a local health clinic that educates the community on these medical problems. We believe that education about different medical conditions is paramount because it can lead to prompt medical responses, which can help save lives. Understanding the distinctions between a panic attack vs heart attack helps you determine when to seek help. We go beyond treatment to help our community in maintaining their psychological and physical health.

What Is a Panic Attack?

A panic attack is a sudden fear or discomfort that lasts for minutes or longer. This overwhelming sensation may occur suddenly or in response to traumatic input, such as a feared object or situation. During panic attacks, people may be frightened or disconnected from reality, even though no real threat exists. It is distressing and confusing, as the experience mimics symptoms of other diseases. Recognizing these panic attack symptoms may help you manage them and seek treatment.

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The symptoms of a panic attack may be:

  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Breathing difficulty or sense of being smothered
  • Choking sensations
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Nausea or abdominal discomfort
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness, and fainting
  • Chills/heat sensations
  • Numbness or twitching sensations
  • Feelings of not being real or detached from oneself
  • Fear of losing control or “going crazy”
  • Fear of dying
man holding his chest having a panic attack vs heart attack
Knowing the distinctions between a panic attack vs heart attack helps you recognize when to seek help

What Is a Heart Attack?

A prolonged blockage of blood flow to the heart muscle that causes damage or death is what causes a heart attack. It is caused mainly by plaque, which is made of fat, cholesterol, and other substances, in the coronary arteries. The blockage can be total or partial, and if it is not resolved quickly, the heart muscle may begin dying. A heart attack requires a serious medical emergency; the heart muscle and life must be saved. The key to intervention is the early detection of heart attack symptoms. They include:

  • Chest pain or discomfort, described as aching, pressing, tightening or squeezing
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Cold sweats
  • Vomiting or nausea
  • Lightheadedness or sudden dizziness
  • Strange fatigue

Rapid recognition of these symptoms and appropriate response can improve outcomes. Calling emergency services when you notice these symptoms allows treatment to begin immediately to avoid more extensive damage to the cardiac muscle.

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Panic Attack vs Heart Attack Symptoms: Similarities and Key Differences

Panic attacks may look similar in their intensity of distress to a heart attack, but there are important differences that set them apart. Although both may involve a rapid heartbeat and shallow breathing, heart attacks are different in nature.

Heart attack pain is usually more severe, persistent, and localized and may radiate to other parts of the body, like the arms or jaw. Chest discomfort from a panic episode is more about pressure and often comes with overwhelming fear or dread, not seen in heart attacks.

Another distinction is how long they last: panic episodes often last 20 minutes or less before starting to go away. On the other hand, in the case of a heart attack, the discomfort frequently persists and could get worse over time.

a man leaning his head on his hand having some pain
Knowing whether symptoms indicate a panic attack vs heart attack can help people get the right type of help quickly

Recognizing these differences enables a proper medical response. Heart attacks require quick emergency care to avoid permanent heart damage. Panic attacks are extremely uncomfortable but not life-threatening and are treated with long-term anxiety strategies such as therapy and medication. Knowing whether symptoms indicate a panic attack or a heart attack can help you get the right type of help quickly, optimizing outcomes in either case.

To sum up, a panic attack vs heart attack might differ in:

  1. The location of the pain
  2. The time when the pain occurs
  3. The duration of the pain

Heart Palpitations: Panic Attack vs Heart Attack Symptom

One thing that may cause concern is heart palpitations. They may be brought on by coffee or certain drugs, or they may be a sign of a panic attack or other episodes of acute or chronic stress.

Palpitations can occasionally be a sign of an arrhythmia or irregular heartbeat. Arrhythmias are dangerous conditions that must not be disregarded. To determine if your frequent palpitations are due to underlying heart disease or stress, your doctor can examine you and do additional tests. A Holter monitor, a portable device worn at home for 24 to 48 hours to monitor your heartbeat during daily activities, may be used in combination with an ECG as one of the test options.

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Panic Attack Symptoms vs Heart Attack Symptoms: What to Do If You Are Unsure?

Anxiety, sadness, and long-term stress may increase a person’s risk of cardiac issues. High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and is often a result of chronic stress. It’s also important to understand that a heart attack may appear to have come out of the blue. However, angina, or heart disease-related chest discomfort, frequently manifests itself days or weeks before a cardiac event.

a doctor taking the blood pressure from the patient
High blood pressure increases the risk of heart attack and stroke and is a result of chronic stress

You can get a burning sensation or some pain in your shoulder or chest. Then, signs and symptoms disappear. Later on, you start to feel a little strange or the ache grows worse. That’s when the heart attack occurs. Identifying these early indications might be challenging.

If you are not sure whether you are experiencing the symptoms of a heart attack or a panic attack, don’t take any chances. Seek emergency medical attention if you have chest discomfort or other heart attack symptoms, or if you’re unsure whether it’s a heart attack or a panic attack.

Heart Attack vs Panic Attack Local Statistics

Panic episodes are frequent, impacting up to 11% of people in a single year. While most people recover without therapy, some, on the other hand, experience panic attacks. When it comes to heart attacks, the most common cause of death in the US is heart disease. Specifically, in Washington, heart disease was the second main cause of death in 2017, with more than 11.000 casualties. Men are roughly twice as likely as women to be hospitalized for heart attacks among Washington residents 35 years of age and older. In general, one in five women dies of heart disease, and one in four men.

When to Seek Help for a Heart Attack vs Panic Episode?

If you believe you are having a heart attack, see a doctor immediately. Symptoms like chest discomfort, which feels like pressure, pain in one or both arms, neck, or stomach, shortening of breath, cold sweat or nausea, or lightheadedness should be examined immediately. Early intervention can save lives and limit damage to the heart muscle. Never wait to see if the symptoms improve on their own. Call emergency services if you suspect a heart attack. Timely treatment improves outcomes and avoids complications.

Panic attacks are not pleasant, but they are not dangerous. Professional help is the best course of action, but it is also beneficial to learn how to stop a panic attack. Focused breathing, knowing the signs, and reasserting yourself that the attack will go away and is not life-threatening are some ways to manage the situation.

a person in a blue shirt holding his chest representing panic attack vs anxiety attack
If you experience any symptoms that may indicate a heart attack, seek medical help immediately.

It may also be helpful to understand the difference between a panic attack vs anxiety attack. Panic attacks are intense, sudden feelings of fear or discomfort lasting for minutes. Anxiety attacks increase gradually and are usually less severe but more frequent and triggered by excessive worry about possible stressors. Managing these attacks requires long-term strategies like – therapy, lifestyle changes, and sometimes medication.

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Treatment and Support at We Level Up Washington

Heart disease may be a consequence of different factors, including your lifestyle. Poor diet, lack of exercise, and substance abuse can all contribute to the development of heart issues and, consequently, heart attacks. When it comes to panic attacks, they are a common symptom of mental health issues. Often, in an attempt to manage them, people turn to prescription drugs or illegal substances for relief. This can lead to addiction. In both cases, comprehensive approach to treatment is necessary.

We Level Up Washington provides dual diagnosis treatment for people with mental health issues and substance abuse problems. Our facility is one of the dual diagnosis treatment centers in Washington that uses an approach that combines mental health with medical treatment, thus addressing both emotional and physical health. This holistic strategy supports recovery and long-term wellness.

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Our experienced team is committed to providing personalized care and support. Choose We Level Up Washington to help you regain your health and wellness.

Distinguishing Between Panic Attack vs Heart Attack with We Level Up Washington

Understanding the differences between a panic attack vs heart attack is essential for health management. Both have symptoms and treatments that differ, and recognition of this can save lives and improve health.

If you need help managing your panic attacks or are struggling with any other mental health issue, contact We Level Up Washington today. Taking action could save a life, and we’re here to help 24/7!

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Kessler, Ronald C., et al. “The Epidemiology of Panic Attacks, Panic Disorder, and Agoraphobia in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” Archives of General Psychiatry, vol. 63, no. 4, 1 Apr. 2006, p. 415, https://doi.org/10.1001/archpsyc.63.4.415. Accessed 20 Feb. 2020.

“Heart Disease.” Washington State Department of Health, doh.wa.gov/you-and-your-family/illness-and-disease-z/heart-disease.

Stats of the State of Washington. 2019, www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/washington/washington.htm.

Network–EPH-WTN–4300, Washington Tracking. “Heart Attack Data | Washington State Department of Health.” Doh.wa.gov, doh.wa.gov/data-and-statistical-reports/washington-tracking-network-wtn/heart-attack. Accessed 7 June 2024.

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