Tachycardia And Heart Attack Fears
Another issue that many people struggle with is in how they respond to tachycardia. It’s not uncommon for those with panic attacks to know that their heart is fine in general, but when they experience tachycardia they feel as though they’re having a heart attack, or that one is coming.
That’s because in addition to a rapid heartbeat, anxiety attacks are associated with catastrophic thinking, in which they may conclude that something terrible is about to happen . Hyperventilation also causes other symptoms that mimic heart attacks, like chest pains and leg weakness.
You do need to recognize the way you react to tachycardia, because often your anxiety can grow more intense if you interpret it as an emergency. Anxiety tachycardia is not a heart attack, and though they can feel the same it is important to recognize the difference.
Is Your Anxiety Normal Or A Sign Of Something More Serious
Its normal to feel anxiety from time to time. Maybe youre nervous about speaking in public, worried about a health issue or concerned about your finances. As troubling as it can be, occasional angst is not harmful. In fact, it can actually be helpful, serving as the motivation you need to tackle new challenges.
However, too much anxiety isnt healthy. It could also be a warning sign of an anxiety disorder or another medical condition that needs treatment, according to Christina Lynn, MD, medical director of the Behavioral Health Unit at Grand Strand Medical Center in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. We spoke with Dr. Lynn about anxiety, and she offered some insight on whats normal, whats excessive and when it may be a red flag for a serious health issue.
Stress And Heart Health
Whats stressful to one person isnt for another. Happy events and unhappy events can cause stress.
Everyone feels and reacts to stress in different ways. How much stress you experience and how you react to it can lead to a wide variety of health problems and thats why its critical to know what you can do about it.
Don’t Miss: What Are Some Anxiety Disorders
Q: How Are Anxiety Disorders Treated
A: Treatment involves therapy, which can help you identify what’s causing your anxiety and learn how to work through it, or a combination of therapy and medication. Together, medication and therapy have often been proven to have the best and most effective response in serious anxiety-based disorders.
As a treating psychiatrist, my preference is to try the least invasive means possible first as we would with any disorder. Lets figure out what’s going on, what’s causing the anxiety and see if we can fix that. In addition to therapy, we could ensure youre getting enough rest and consider lifestyle and dietary changes, like exercise, reducing caffeine intake and eating a healthy diet to avoid major swings in your blood sugar. If these strategies fail, then yes, let’s try medication.
An anxiety disorder is a health problem and we approach it the same way that we do many other health problems. People with diabetes may try changing their diet or exercising before starting a medication. It’s the same philosophy. Medication does help but its not the only solution.
Does A Fast Pulse From Stress Require Medical Treatment
It does not usually require treatment to suppress the heart rate except in certain conditions such as hyperthyroidism, says Dr. Denier.
It should always be recognized as an important warning sign and may indicate that a persons stress level has moved into the unhealthy zone.
Chronic anxiety can result in poor sleep, bad eating habits, dehydration and too much indulgence in vices like smoking, which can all increase heart rate.
This is the reason that a good medical exam is so important, says Dr. Denier.
Treatment should be focused on recognizing the underlying contributing factors and finding more effective coping mechanisms.
As mentioned, modern peoples cant fight or flee, and instead, often hold their stress inside.
Men and women need to develop coping skills to subdue stresss negative effects.
Exercise is a perfect healthy release of stress and is always good for the heart, says Dr. Denier.
Dr. Denier has been practicing medicine for over 15 years and is board certified by the American Board of Internal Medicine Cardiovascular Disease.
Lorra Garrick has been covering medical, fitness and cybersecurity topics for many years, having written thousands of articles for print magazines and websites, including as a ghostwriter. Shes also a former ACE-certified personal trainer.
Recommended Reading: Which Benzo Is Best For Anxiety
Turning A Negative Into A Positive
A panic attack or an AFib episode can bring a rush of frightening energy, as adrenaline courses through your body and your mind jumps to worst case scenarios. You could try to wait it out and distract yourself with an activity, but sometimes its impossible to calm your anxious response by sheer will.
Instead, you might try to turn the rush of fear into a rush of excitement: force yourself to think of an exciting event or possibility, or simply start dancing and laughing. It sounds counterintuitive, but you may be able to flip the nature of your feeling from bad to good, and although this probably wont make your symptoms go away, they will become easier to handle.
Relaxation, support, confidence, and commitment these are the ingredients of a smart and effective management plan for AFib and for anxiety. If either set of symptoms begins to take over your thoughts and lifestyle, it may be time to seek a new perspective or professional guidance. The good news is that there are plenty of techniques that can interfere with the AFib-anxiety cycle, and help you regain some control.
Q: What Is The First Step
A: Anyone struggling with anxiety should first talk to their primary care doctor and ask, “Am I worrying too much or is this normal?” At that time, they could have a physical, which would help rule out medical conditions that can present as anxiety. It’s a good, safe place to begin. Just start the conversation. That’s the biggest thing.
Also Check: How Anxiety Affects The Body
Can A Panic Attack Feel Like A Heart Attack
A panic attack often comes with a very high heart rate, and may even feel similar to a heart attack, so youll want to take these steps to lower your heart rate. This article was medically reviewed by John Osborne, MD, PhD, and the Director of Cardiology for Dallas-based State of the Heart Cardiology.
A Fast Resting Pulse Is Not Good For The Heart And Unfortunately A Stressful Life Can Cause This
Stress is bad for the heart, and one way this is so is because chronic stress or anxiety can cause a fast resting pulse.
As a busy clinical cardiologist, it is not uncommon to see a patient who has resting tachycardia, that is, a sustained heart rate above 100 beats per minute, says Donna P. Denier, MD, of The Cardiology Center with the Appalachian Regional Healthcare System.
We can almost always feel our heart racing when faced with acute anxiety or fear.
However, a persistently fast pulse cant always be felt by the patient unless they take their pulse.
The best time to take it is first thing upon awakening, or, at least, when youve been relaxed for awhile.
But you should also take it randomly, since being relaxed might not be a frequent occurrence for a highly stressed person.
Dr. Denier explains, Often the patient notices a feeling of palpitations or a sensation of their heart racing, but other people may have no symptoms at all.
They may be referred by a primary physician who noticed this finding.
Medical causes of a fast resting pulse include an overactive thyroid, anemia, infection and pain, says Dr. Denier. Caffeine and side effects of medications can also cause tachycardia.
Anxiety can cause tachycardia, but should always be a diagnosis of exclusion after carefully ruling out any significant organic disease that may require treatment, says Dr. Denier.
The physical exertion of fight or flight neutralizes stress hormones.
Also Check: Can You Be Hospitalized For Severe Anxiety
Ways To Reduce Stress
Relaxation techniques such as meditation, mindfulness and controlled breathing are also quite successful for many people. Beyond that , here are some other popular activities and behaviors people engage in to relieve stress:
- Spend quality time with friends and family, and laugh
- Listen to soothing music
- Write in a journal, in particular express feeling of gratitude
- Practice yoga
Relieve Anxiety Reduce Afib
Anxiety and AFib play off each other, and thats no good for your body or your mind. If you know that anxiety triggers your AFib, make it a priority to get the stressors in your life under control as you craft a more heart-healthy routine.
If anxiety is too much to bear, dont suffer alone talk to your doctor about adding anxiety medication to your health management. You may not need to take it every day, only when things get very bad, but knowing that you have something on hand for emergencies can go far to reassuring yourself that youll get through the panic should it strike again.
Next, add exercise. Workouts dont need to be strenuous, but they do need to be regular: youll see more positive physical and psychological results when you commit to exercising several times a week. If youre not sure where to start, you may first want to meet with your doctor and a trainer to measure your current level of fitness, so you can choose an appropriate workout that respects your limits.
Read Also: What Do You Take For Depression And Anxiety
Can Anxiety Cause High Blood Pressure
While periods of high anxiety or panic attacks can cause temporary rises in blood pressure and heart rate, there is not enough evidence to confirm that anxiety disorders cause long term hypertension though it has been suggested in certain studies.
When you become anxious or stressed, your body responds with surges in certain hormones, which can raise your heart rate and blood pressure. In isolation, occasional spikes in blood pressure do not lead to hypertension. But, if stress-induced spikes in blood pressure happen often enough, like every day, this can cause blood vessel damage and put stress on the heart and kidneys. These harmful effects are similar to what happens in people with hypertension.
Another way that anxiety can contribute to high blood pressure is that people often respond to stress with unhealthy lifestyle behaviors. Here are some behaviors that can cause hypertension:
Smoking or vaping
Eating too much and/or eating unhealthy food
Not exercising or maintaining a healthy weight
Not getting enough sleep
Not taking their prescribed medications for high blood pressure
Rarely, medications to treat anxiety, such asserotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors can cause an increase in blood pressure. Your health care provider may have to adjust your medications if you develop high blood pressure as a side effect.
Your Bodys Response To Stress May Be:
- A headache
- Wreak havoc on your sleep
- Make you feel cranky, forgetful or out of control
A stressful situation sets off a chain of events. Your body releases adrenaline, a hormone that temporarily causes your breathing and heart rate to speed up and your blood pressure to rise. These reactions prepare you to deal with the situation the fight or flight response.
Recommended Reading: What To Drink For Anxiety
Q: Are Anxiety Disorders Often Dismissed As Just Part Of Life
A: Anxiety disorders are very treatable, yet many people are not receiving treatment. Our society and culture are really behind the times. We don’t talk about it a lot or seek help. That mentality has to change. We have to begin to think of anxiety and depression as actual health problems, like diabetes, heart attacks and strokes, and start treating them as such.
What Can I Do About Stress
Fortunately, you can manage stress in ways such as:
- Exercising regularly. It can relieve stress, tension, anxiety and depression. Consider a nature walk, meditation or yoga.
- Making time for friends and family. Its important to maintain social connections and talk with people you trust.
- Getting enough sleep. Adults should aim for seven to nine hours a night.
- Maintaining a positive attitude.
- Practicing relaxation techniques while listening to music.
- Finding a stimulating hobby that can be fun and distract you from negative thoughts or worries.
Figuring out how stress pushes your buttons is an important step in dealing with it. Identify sources of stress in your life and look for ways to reduce and manage them. A health care professional can help you find ways to manage your stress.
Stress management or relaxation classes can also help. Look for them at community colleges, rehab programs, in hospitals or by calling a therapist in your community.
Adopting serenity in the face of lifes challenges may help improve your perception of stress and result in better quality of life and heart health.
Written by American Heart Association editorial staff and reviewed by science and medicine advisers. See our editorial policies and staff.
Read Also: Do I Have Ed Or Performance Anxiety
How Do Providers Treat Heart Palpitations And Anxiety
If your healthcare provider diagnoses you with heart palpitations caused by anxiety, they may suggest:
- Complementary health treatments:Biofeedback, massage therapy and other techniques can help you relax.
- Medications: Anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants help some people. Your provider may suggest options to treat anxiety that happens when you fly or speak in public. These medicines include beta blockers and benzodiazepines, such as alprazolam and diazepam . Benzodiazepines can be habit-forming, so they are only for occasional use.
- Psychotherapy:Cognitive behavioral therapy helps you identify and treat your thought patterns. Exposure-response prevention aims to create a positive response to fears to relieve anxiety.
Diagnosing And Treating Anxiety
Its important to differentiate normal anxiety from the more severe type. Does the anxiety interfere with your family life or keep you from being productive in your professional life? Does it restrict you from engaging in the activities you like? If the answer is yes, then its the kind of anxiety that may require some degree of therapy or medical attention.
Depending on the duration, severity, and type of anxiety, treatment can include therapy, medication, or a combination of both. A common and effective method of treatment is cognitive behavioral therapy , which involves three main components:
Read Also: How To Beat Anxiety Attacks
Normal Heart Rate By Age
A healthy heart does not beat as regularly as a clock. Speed up and slow down to accommodate your changing oxygen needs as your activities vary throughout the day. What is a normal heart rate varies from person to person. However, an unusually high resting heart rate or a low maximum heart rate can mean an increased risk of heart attack.
One simple thing people can do is monitor their resting heart rate. It is quite easy to do and having the information can help in the future. Its a good idea to take your pulse every now and then to get a sense of whats normal for you and to identify unusual changes in rhythm or regularity that may require medical attention.