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Panic Attack Versus Heart Attack

Updated: Mar 26

That heart racing, painful feeling in your chest could easily make you fear the worst. The actual fear of having a heart attack or a panic attack can further complicate matters, so it’s important for patients to be able to distinguish between the two.

While the two conditions can seem very similar, there are a few key factors to pay attention to when determining the differences. Here is a list of symptoms to help you better understand what might happen during each of these experiences.

Heart Attack Symptoms: 

· Escalating chest pain that reaches maximum severity after a few minutes

· Continuous pain, pressure, fullness or aching in the chest area

· A traveling or radiating pain or discomfort from the chest to other areas, such as to one or both arms, abdomen, back, shoulders, neck, throat, or jaw

· Pain brought on by exertion

· Shortness of breath

Panic Attack Symptoms: 

· Increased heart rate

· Sharp or stabbing chest pain that lasts only 5 to 10 seconds

· Pain that is localized to one, small area

· Pain that usually occurs at rest

· Pain that accompanies anxiety and stress

· Pain that is relieved or worsened when you change positions

· Pain that can be reproduced or worsened by pressing over the area of pain

Our doctors advise patients to know the symptoms of both, trust your bodies, and above all else seek medical help if you ever suspect that you are having a heart attack. Never downplay your symptoms or trick yourself into thinking it will “just go away.”

As an important note, our urgent care doctors would like to explain that although we care a great deal about our patients, our clinics are not suited to treat patients having a heart attack. Should you experience symptoms of a heart attack, call 9-1-1 or have someone take you to the nearest emergency room.

When you’re experiencing minor health problems, injuries, or illnesses, our urgent care clinics are staffed with medical professionals to serve you! Please click here to view our urgent care locations and hours of operation.


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