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Can Anxiety Cause Heart Pain

Stress And Silent Reflux

Can stress or anxiety cause chest pain?

When stomach acids can flow all the way up to the throat, we talk about silent reflux .

Many people with LPR dont experience heartburn at all. The typical symptoms are:

  • lump in throat
  • hoarseness

According to Cleveland Clinic, being overstressed is one of the risk factors of silent reflux.

This study found that depression is also common in people with silent reflux: LPR was significantly more frequent in those with depression than in those without.

The study examined depression in people with silent reflux symptoms and not the other way around. This raises the question: can reflux cause stress?

Impact Of Anxiety Attacks

Anxiety attacks, or panic attacks, are episodes of intense fear and emotional distress. They usually strike suddenly and without warning. And they may last several minutes or up to an hour.

These attacks may have a discrete trigger. Sometimes, though, they occur without a known cause.

Anxiety attacks are often recurrent. They’re distressing to experience and concerning for friends and family who witness them.

When you’ve had panic attacks, it’s common to worry about having more. Attempts to avoid them can lead to extreme lifestyle changes.

You may find yourself avoiding situations or environments that have triggered previous episodes. You may also get in the habit of checking for escape routes you can take should anxiety strike.

Avoidance strategies can become extensive. At the extreme end is people who become housebound or otherwise withdraw from the world. This is called agoraphobia.

Anxiety attacks aren’t just intense fright, though. They can cause physical symptoms including:

  • Severe dyspnea
  • Abdominal cramping
  • Chest pain

Is Stress Chest Pain Serious

When experiencing stress induced chest pain, the following should be considered as risk factors.

  • Are you at risk of a heart attack due to age, obesity, family history, angina, hypertension, high blood cholesterol, diabetes, cigarette smoking or other risk factors?
  • Is this your first episode of chest pain due to stress in the past 3 months or has it been occurring repeatedly and with increasing frequency?
  • Are you experiencing any dizziness, difficulty breathing, blurred vision, sweating or arm pain?

If you are at risk of a heart attack, have experienced previous episodes of chest pain which is either stress induced or not, with other signs and symptoms associated with a heart attack, then immediate medical attention is required. It is important to bear in mind that a heart attack may occur although no apparent risk factors are evident and with no prior warning. A cardiovascular examination with chest pain tests like a stress ECG can help to diagnose underlying heart conditions.

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When Palpitations Trigger Anxiety

Fight-or-flight isnt the only time heart rate and anxiety may overlap. Some people notice their heart speeding up or fluttering, which triggers fear or anxiety.

People who have an arrhythmia an abnormal heart rhythm might experience sudden palpitations, says Dr. Bibawy. They understandably get nervous because they dont know why these palpitations happen. The palpitations may cause anxiety, and anxiety causes more palpitations. This creates a cycle thats hard to break.

Complications Of Anxiety And Heart Disease

Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain ? Chest Pain or Heart Attack ...

A person with heart disease and anxiety is more likely to experience worse outcomes, such as severe disability or death, than people with heart disease who do not have anxiety.

Anxiety can also lead to fear and uncertainty about your health. Your fears might keep you from following your treatment plan.

Though the research is mixed, people who experience anxiety appear to be less likely to engage in healthy behaviors that could help with heart disease. Anxious individuals tend to have increased dietary cholesterol intake, eat more food, live a sedentary lifestyle, and exercise less.

Anxiety is also associated with a lower likelihood of following risk-reducing recommendations after a heart attack, including smoking cessation, social support utilization, and stress reduction.

People with anxiety disorders are also less likely to attend and complete cardiac rehabilitation programs. These behavioral factors in people with anxiety disorders can increase the likelihood of cardiovascular morbidity and mortality.

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Is It A Heart Attack Or Anxiety

It makes sense to respond to pain especially when you dont know its source with anxiety or worry. But if that pain is caused by anxiety in the first place, your natural response can spiral into an anxiety attack.

One reason you might respond to chest pain with anxiety is if you think, What if Im having a heart attack?

Knowing the difference between anxiety symptoms and heart attack symptoms can help you feel more at ease when having chest pain. And chances are, naming this pain could help you reduce it quickly.

When youre in the midst of a high-anxiety moment, your body is more likely to be experiencing:

  • higher blood pressure
  • more oxygen to the heart
  • heart palpitations

How Common Are Heart Palpitations Caused By Anxiety

Anxiety is the most common cause of palpitations that are not related to a heart problem. Its very common to have moments of anxiety, especially during stressful situations. These situations may include job interviews, public speaking or airplane flights. Most times, these anxious feelings and heart palpitations come and go quickly.

If you have feelings of anxiety often or for long periods, talk to your healthcare provider. You may have an anxiety disorder or a panic disorder. Treatment with medication, therapy or both can help relieve your symptoms.

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Can An Anxiety Attack Really Feel That Bad

During an anxiety attack, adrenaline courses through your body. Everyone experiences the result of this adrenaline differently, but some symptoms are common, such as a racing heart, shortness of breath, tightness in your chest, dizziness, sweating, trembling, an upset stomach and a feeling like you might die.

Unfortunately, a panic attack has symptoms that closely resemble those of a heart attack, making it hard to tell the difference between the two, says cardiologist , who practices at the UW Medicine Regional Heart Center Cardiology Clinic.

Your body is preparing you to either fight off a threat or flee to safety, and thats serious stuff, she says.

Can You Mistake Other Types Of Heart Palpitations For Anxiety Heart Palpitations

Anxiety, Stress and Chest pain

If heart palpitations dont go away within a few minutes or happen frequently, they may not be related to anxiety. Less commonly, heart palpitations result from a health condition or disorder, including:

  • Lifestyle, including your alcohol and caffeine intake, as both can cause palpitations.
  • Medical history.
  • Symptoms.

Your provider may suggest a blood test to check for anemia or low potassium. Theyll also look for a thyroid problem or other health issues that could cause heart palpitations.

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Stress And Stomach Acid

It feels plausible that stress increases stomach acid production, however, it looks like this mechanism is not as straightforward as we might think:

During the mental stress period, gastric acid output increased in subjects with high scores on the impulsivity scale, but significantly decreased in those with low scores.

Some other studies are suggesting that not all stress are created equal:

heartburn severity appears to be most responsive to major life events and not an accumulation of more minor stressors or fluctuations in mood. In addition, vital exhaustion, which may in part result from sustained stress, may represent the psychophysiological symptom complex most closely associated with heartburn exacerbation.

Looks like stress might both increase and decrease stomach acid secretion.

The above studies suggest that impulsive people might respond to stress by producing more stomach acid while others might actually produce less stomach acid.

Severe stress is also more likely to aggravate acid production, while moderate stress inhibits it.

Watch For Subtle Signs Of A Heart Attack

A heart attack might seem like it came out of nowhere. But in many cases, chest pain due to heart disease, known as angina, appears in the days or weeks before a cardiac event.

You may feel a twinge or some pain in the shoulder or chest but think its something else, says Dr. Miller. The symptoms go away. Then later, the pain gets worse, or you feel a little off. Then the heart attack hits. These early signs can be hard to identify.

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Tendonitis Or Inflammation Of Tendons

The inflammation of the connective tissue between muscle and bone is tendonitis. Owing to repetitive joint use, tendonitis sometimes occurs. Therefore, tennis players, swimmers, and musicians frequently get tendonitis for this cause. The cause of left arm pain may be tendonitis in the shoulder or elbow.

Psychological Symptoms Of Gad

Can Anxiety Cause Chest Pain And Back Pain

GAD can cause a change in your behaviour and the way you think and feel about things, resulting in symptoms such as:

  • restlessness
  • difficulty concentrating
  • irritability

Your symptoms may cause you to withdraw from social contact to avoid feelings of worry and dread.

You may also find going to work difficult and stressful, and may take time off sick. These actions can make you worry even more about yourself and increase your lack of self-esteem.

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Why Does Anxiety Cause Chest Pain

Anxiety is the bodys response to a real or perceived stressor, and anxiety and panic attacks can produce a number of physical symptoms in addition to mental turmoil.

When youre anxious, your body enters whats typically referred to as a fight or flight state, preparing to help you battle against something that could hurt you.

Your body does this in many ways, including increasing your heart rate, breathing rate, and blood pressure, and by triggering the release of adrenaline and noradrenaline.

Many of these fight or flight responses can cause chest pain. Common causes for chest pain include:

  • Muscle tension: This is typically a result of stress and can manifest itself as tightness in the muscles in the chest.
  • Increased heart rate: This can lead to feelings of pounding in the chest, heart palpitations, and coronary artery spasms.
  • Hyperventilation: This is a result of shortness of breath, and can cause changes to the level of carbon dioxide in the blood.
  • Increased blood pressure: This can increase oxygen demand in the heart and put a strain on the smaller blood vessels due to increased blood flow.

Behavioral Responses To Anxiety

A similar and related problem has to do with your own behavioral responses to your anxiety, aches and pains. For example, perhaps your anxiety has caused you to feel fatigue or low energy, and you spend a great deal of time slouching in your chair. That behavioral response will increase the likelihood of creating lower back pain, because slouching can lead to this type of discomfort.

Muscle tension can create similar problems. If you have muscle tension within your shoulder, you may lift objects in a manner your body isn’t accustomed to, and this can cause you to create pain in your lower back. This is just one of many examples of how aches and pains may be the result of how you respond to your symptoms.

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How To Tell Where Your Chest Pain Is Coming From

Heres a quick cheat sheet with the differences between anxiety chest pain and a heart attack.

  • When: Anxiety chest pain happens most often when at rest, and heart attack chest pain often happens during activity. Anxiety chest pain tends to start and end faster. Heart attack chest pain builds up and continues to increase in pain .
  • Where: Anxiety chest pain usually stays in the chest, while heart attack chest pain can radiate through to the arms, shoulders, and jaw .
  • What: Anxiety chest pain often feels much sharper with reports of a stabbing-like pain, and heart attack chest pain usually feels more heavy, aching, and with squeezing pressure .
  • Who: Anxiety disorders, including panic attacks, are more common in women and heart attacks are more common in men .

Know The Correlation Between The Two Conditions

What causes chest pain & what to do?

According to the American Heart Association), many mental health issues can affect your heart health. When your body is under stress, it produces higher levels of glucose, adrenaline, and cortisol. Repetitive or prolonged distress overworks your adrenal glands, heart, and arteries. Unhealthy coping mechanisms, like smoking cigarettes or eating fatty foods, can contribute to the negative cycle. If left unchecked, an unhealthy mental state becomes another risk factor for heart attack.

Additionally, up to a third of all heart attack survivors experience depression. Anxiety and chest pain can trigger more panic, resulting in a potentially destructive cycle. Healthy mental and physical habits reduce the chances of anxiety and heart attacks.

To learn more about living a heart-healthy lifestyle and what to do when anxiety feels like a heart attack, contact the UPMC Heart and Vascular Institute today.

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Heart Attack Chest Pain

So what are heart attack symptoms?

A heart attack is when the blood flow or blood supply that feeds the heart itself is blocked. Heart attack symptoms include :

  • Chest pain that continues to get worse with exertion
  • Chest pain that radiates to your arms or jaw
  • Heavy pressure in the chest area and a squeezing sensation
  • Fast heart rate and shortness of breath
  • Nausea

Some people feel exhausted or say they have back pain, and close to 30% of people having a heart attack dont even report chest pain .

What Are The Symptoms Of An Anxiety Attack Vs A Heart Attack

The symptoms of anxiety present themselves differently, not just from one person to another but even in your own body. You might feel it in your stomach one day and your chest the next. This variation can make it a bit challenging to figure out whats causing your physical symptoms .

Some people are prone to anxiety attacks or panic attacks, often leading to many physical manifestations of anxiety. With a panic attack, a person can have the sensation of choking, heart palpitations, sweating, shortness of breath, and chest pain. People with a generalized anxiety disorder may have those symptoms, as well as tremors, nausea, muscle tension, and dizziness .

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What Should I Do When Chest Pain Strikes

If you feel badly enough to wonder if youre having a heart attack, you should go to the emergency room.

Thats because there are no single defining characteristics that will tell you if youre having a heart attack, says, Gary Weeks, M.D., chief of cardiology at the Heart Institute at UW Medical Center – Northwest.

Intercostal Muscle Pain Or Pulled Chest Muscles

How Anxiety Causes Chest Pain!

A sore heart may actually be coming from the intercostal muscles that are located between your ribs. Intercostal muscles in the ribcage can be stretched, strained, or pulled and be a reason for pain in the heart area. Pulled muscles in the chest can also cause mild to excruciating pain in your upper body.

The journal Australian Family Physician reports that chest wall pain is often caused by inflammation or tears in the chest muscles. Sometimes, pain in the back of the rib cage can wrap around to the front of the chest. Because intercostal muscle pain can feel like heart pain, its important for doctors to first rule out cardiac-related events.11

If doctors confirm that your heart feels sore because of intercostal muscle strain, you can try some of my home remedies for muscle pain.

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