Chest Tightness Anxiety Symptoms
Anxiety chest tightness, including chest pressure, tension, fullness, pain, and shooting pains are often symptoms of anxiety disorder, including generalized anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and others.
The higher the rating, the more likely it could be contributing to your anxiety symptoms, including chest tightness.
This article explains the relationship between anxiety and chest tightness.
What Are The Symptoms Of A Heart Attack
According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the major symptoms of a heart attack are
We are especially wary of the shooting pain and pressure in the chest symptom. So, when unexpectedly you notice a shot of pain go across your rib cage, you go numb for a second. Could it be a heart attack? Relax, says an article by the Cleveland Clinic.
Take a deep breath. Oftentimes, the situation isnt what you fear. Most chest pains may send alarm bells ringing in your mind, but dont conclude either way. Dont ignore it as Nothing to worry about! nor jump out of your skin with fright.
Most chest pains are unlikely to signal a heart attack, reassures the Cleveland Clinic but walk the reader through those indicators and what they might mean with cardiologist Dr Curtis Rimmerman, MD.
Distinguishing A Panic Attack From A Heart Attack
Panic attacks and heart attacks can share similar if not identical symptoms. Anyone suffering from sudden and severe chest painwhether being treated for anxiety disorder or not should go to the emergency room. The physician will test the patients blood for specific heart muscle enzymes. If none are found, its usually not a heart attack.
A cardiologist sensitive to the issues of anxiety and depression will know how to sort out panic attack symptoms from heart attack symptoms, and will be able to refer the patient for treatment for panic disorder or any other type of anxiety.
Stay on Top of Your Heart Health
If you have a new or existing heart problem, it’s vital to see a doctor. Our heart health checklist can help you determine when to seek care.
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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.
Panic Attack Vs Heart Attack: How To Tell The Difference
Your heart suddenly begins racing. You feel pain in your chest and you are short of breath.
Are you having a heart attack? Or could it be a panic attack?
Although they share a number of similarities, the two conditions result from very different disease processes. Panic attacks arise when stress hormones trigger the body’s “fight or flight” response, often resulting in racing heart, chest pain and shortness of breath.
In the case of a heart attack, a blockage in a coronary artery may result in the same symptoms. “Chest pain, rapid heartbeat and breathlessness may result when an insufficient amount of blood reaches the heart muscle,” says Tung.
One of the key distinctions between the two is that a heart attack often develops during physical exertion, whereas a panic attack can occur at rest.
A heart attack is more likely to develop when the work load of the heart increases, for example while a person is shoveling snow or running up the stairs, especially in people who do not routinely engage in physical exertion.
Another difference is duration: Panic attacks tend to gradually subside and resolve on their own within about 20 minutes. A heart attack, however, will often continue and may worsen over time.
When Your Heart Skips a Beat
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Chest Pain: 3 Signs It Is Not A Heart Attack And Possible Other Causes
hile we advise you to not panic or stress out when there is chest pain, and avoid imagining that it is necessarily a heart attack, we also back the advice that if you have unexplained chest pain, the only way to confirm its cause is to have a doctor evaluate you. Apart from heart issues, here are the various reasons why your chest may hurt.
We have all learnt that a heart attack , happens when a part of the heart muscle doesnt get enough blood.
And dreading such an event, we also stay posted about when to know that it is a heart attack that one is going through.
Anxiety Chest Pain Vs Heart Attack
Anxiety chest pain is so alarming because we associate chest pain with heart attacks. And its fair to feel concernedabout 735,000 people in the U.S. have heart attacks each year, and chest pain is one of the common symptoms.
But studies show that 80% of people who go to the emergency room with chest pain are not having a heart attack, and 58% of that group suffer from moderate to severe anxiety.
Though pain related to a heart attack and anxiety chest pain can feel similar, there are several differences between the two that can help you determine which you may be experiencing.
For example, while anxiety chest pain can feel different from person to person, it tends to limit itself to just the chest.
Most people experiencing heart attack chest pain, on the other hand, explain it as a squeezing, heavy, and/or aching pain that radiates outwards from the chest to the arms, shoulders, and jaw .
There are also differences when it comes to when the pain starts, and how long it lasts.
Anxiety chest pain tends to start when the body is at rest, and, as previously mentioned, lasts for approximately 10 minutes .
Conversely, heart attack chest pain typically starts slowly when the body is active, and the pain gradually increases in intensity. Chest pain during a heart attack also tends to get worse with exertion and lasts longer than pain related to anxiety.
If you think you are experiencing a heart attack, seek medical attention as soon as possible.
Also Check: How To Calm Down From An Anxiety Attack
Quick Read Angina Or Anxiety
- Many people go to the emergency room with chest pain that feels like a heart attack but is instead anxiety.
- Its unlikely that a young person without risk factors is having a heart attack, but you should still go to the emergency room if you experience symptoms.
Picture this: Your heart is racing. It feels like its not just beating in your chest but in your throat and neck. Its beating so hard that its impossible to think of anything else.
You feel short of breath, but short of breath doesnt quite describe it. Its more like youre smothering or choking. And when you think about it, swallowing is difficult, too.
On top of this, you are sweating and shaking uncontrollably. And you are dizzy to the point of needing to throw up.
Your chest gets tighter and tighter. You feel a sense of impending doom. Youre worried that you may be having a heart attack. What else could it be?
How Anxiety Can Cause Chest Pain
In 13 Common Panic Attack Myths Debunked I mention that chest pain is caused by muscle spasms.
- Hyperventilation, a common symptom of high anxiety, can lead to chest muscle spasms and spasms in the arteries that move blood to your heart.
- Meanwhile, an episode of high anxiety can lead to spasms in the esophagus.
Hyperventilation can also lead to decreased blood flow through our blood vessels. This causes pain when muscle cells become starved for oxygen.
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What Should You Do If You Experience Anxiety Chest Pain
Always seek medical care to get your chest pain checked out. Symptoms of anxiety/panic attacks and heart attacks overlap a bit. Its best to have yourself evaluated in the emergency room under the guidance of an experienced healthcare professional.
If you are diagnosed with anxiety chest pain or non-cardiac chest pain, seek professional healthcare to manage your anxiety. Treatments can include cognitive behavioral therapy to manage your anxiety and, if needed, medications .
Here are some steps to manage an anxiety attack or panic attack, even with chest pain :
- Breathe deeply, slowly, and steadily.
- Count to 10 and keep repeating until the feeling passes.
- Monitor your chest painanxiety chest pain doesnt last long compared to a heart attack .
- Focus on a calming favorite image while counting.
Those are useful, though temporary, fixes. While you may not reduce anxiety completely, lifestyle changes can help you reduce the severity of your physical symptoms of anxiety. Try these strategies to manage your anxiety :
- Eat rightIncrease your vegetables and decrease your sugar intake.
- ExerciseAim for at least 150 minutes a week. Bodily movement helps reduce anxiety.
- Get enough sleepMost people need at least 7 hours.
- Avoid alcohol or tobacco.
- Some people are sensitive to its effects.
Can Anxiety Mimic Cardiac Symptoms
People who suffer from panic attacks often say their acute anxiety feels like a heart attack, as many of the symptoms can seem the same. Both conditions can be accompanied by shortness of breath, tightness in the chest, sweating, a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, and even physical weakness or temporary paralysis.
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Take Stock Of The Situation
Accept your feelings of anxiety, recognize them, and then work through putting them in perspective.
Are you worried about something you cant control? Are you fearful of an outcome thats unlikely? Are you dreading a situation you cant control the outcome of? Talk your way through your feelings to find the source, and then work to put them into perspective.
This Is How You End Chest Pain
Considering how influential hyperventilation is in causing our chest pain, relaxing our breathing will have great effects.
We breathe because our body needs oxygen to work, and the oxygen we take in ends up as CO2 that we breathe out. But we also need quite a bit of CO2 in our body for everything to work correctly.
During hyperventilation we breathe too fast and too shallow. We end up removing too much CO2.
The easiest way to fix this is to regulate our own breathing. This article by PsychCentral has a very good description of how that can be done.
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Other Causes Of Chest Pain
In addition to angina or anxiety, there are other conditions that can cause chest pain. These include:
- Narrowing of the hearts aortic valve
- Blockage in a lung artery
- Tearing of a major artery
- Heart muscle disease
- Inflammation in the tissues that surround the heart
- Inflammation of the tissue separating your lungs from your chest wall
How To Hang On: Coping During A Pandemic
A poll conducted in mid-April 2020 by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that 56% of adults reported that worry and stress because of the pandemic has had a negative effect on their mental health.
Respondents reported adverse effects such as trouble sleeping, poor appetite or overeating, frequent headaches or stomachaches, difficulty in controlling their temper, or increasing alcohol/drug use, and worsening chronic conditions like diabetes or high blood pressure. This is up from 45% reporting that stress over coronavirus had negatively affected their mental health in a KFF poll conducted in late March 2020.9
Right now everybody has increased anxiety, whether youre healthy as a horse, whether you have a psychiatric illness, or not, says Dr. McCann.
Telemedicine can help by connecting people with their doctors, and video meeting apps provide a means to keep up a social life as we remain in our homes. More on how to access telemedicine.
Dr. McCann also suggests exercising together with friends via video chat to support social interaction, while Dr. Bhatia recommends practicing mindfulness to ease stress.
Symptoms that are related to anxiety/panic can improve with mindfulness-based breathing exercises, says Dr. Bhatia.10 More on this technique from Dr. Bhatia.
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How To Reduce Anxiety And Chest Pain
The best way to manage chest pain is with prevention and by reducing your overall anxiety symptoms. The less you experience anxiety, the less risk you’ll have for chest pain.
If you’re currently experiencing anxiety and chest pain, the best things to do are the following:
- Control Your Breathing Recall that this type of chest pain is often caused by hyperventilation, and even if you’re not hyperventilating, getting your breathing under control is a great way to calm the nerves. Take slow, controlled breaths using deep breathing techniques that take at least 15 seconds and you’ll quickly see a difference. Try to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, breathing deep from your diaphragm rather than shallow from your chest.
- Control Your Thoughts One of the reasons I recommend going to a doctor first is because understanding that your chest pain is anxiety related reduces the severity of the experience. If you know that your heart is in good health, don’t let your thoughts spiral out of control because that may make the chest pain worse.
- Control Your Environment Chest pain caused by thoughts or anxiety is often made worse when you sit and focus on the experience. See if you can give yourself a healthy coping distraction, and much of the chest pain will fade away. Some suggestions for this include changing your location , listen to relaxing or happy music, talk on the phone with a trusted friend, or use grounding techniques to focus on the present.