Anxiety And Heart Attack Recovery
Anxiety disorders come with a high degree of fear and uncertainty. When this fear and certainty keeps the heart attack or heart disease patient from following the advice and treatment plan of their cardiologist, it can have a major impact on recovery. Anxiety can interfere with:
- Sticking to prescribed exercise regimens
- Taking prescribed medications
- Following through with a healthy diet
- Getting a proper amount of quality sleep
- Reconnecting with friends and family
- Confidently resuming job career and family responsibilities
Anxiety Chest Pain Vs Heart Attack Chest Pain
Chest pain is a concerning symptom, and its usually best to seek emergency medical attention if youre experiencing it. Even if the chest pain cause is anxiety, its better to know than to risk missing valuable time if youre having a heart attack.
People describe chest pain in a number of ways when theyre having a heart attack. Some examples include:
- chest pain that radiates to other parts of your body, such as down your arms or up to your jaw
- chest pain that worsens with exertion
- nausea along with chest pain
- pressure in the chest, as if someone has put something heavy on your chest
- rapid heart rate
- shortness of breath
- squeezing sensation in the chest
An estimated 30 percent of patients who are having a heart attack dont have chest pain, according to 2020 research . Some people report symptoms like back pain and fatigue as part of their heart attack symptoms.
While doctors know there is a connection between anxiety and chest pain, you still shouldnt ignore your symptoms and seek medical attention.
What Should You Do If You Feel Chest Pain
If you are having chest pains, the worst thing for you to do is to try to “play through it” or hope that it goes away on its own. It’s true that it might not be anything too serious, but the chances are that it’s going to be better for you to get it checked out rather than to act as though everything is normal. Even if it is a false alarm or something like heartburn, it’s still better to identify it so that you can be sure.
If you are experiencing mild chest pains, then it might be permissible for someone to drive you to the hospital, but it is probably better to call an ambulance and treat what is happening as an actual emergency. Chest pain is one of the symptoms that are so potentially serious that it is always best to be more cautious with it.
Exploring The Connection Between Stress And Chest Pain
As it relates to stress and chest pain, one can easily lead to the other. Stress-related chest pain is by no means uncommon, but it could mean that you are developing a condition related to your stress, which could be potentially life-threatening.
How Do People Describe The Sensation?
Stress-induced chest pain might not feel quite the same for everyone, but most people would agree on at least some of the symptoms. You might have chest tension or tightness. You may feel stabbing pressure, a dull ache, burning, or numbness. You might also have an unusual spasm or muscle twitch in your chest. There may be sharp, shooting pain, or a persistent ache.
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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.
How To Manage Anxiety
Anxiety might not be comfortable, but it is a common and sometimes useful response.
While its impossible to avoid anxiety completely , you can become more aware of how its affecting you in order to manage it when its overwhelming.
You might already have methods for relieving anxiety-induced chest pain in the moment. If youre looking for more ideas, you can try:
- engaging in slow, deep breathing by counting to 10
- taking a 5-minute break from anything thats currently causing anxiety, if possible
- getting up to walk around, stretch, or raise your arms above your head to give yourself more room to breathe
Therapy and medication can also be effective for managing anxiety disorders.
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The Effect Of Anxiety On The Heart
When someone is anxious, their body reacts in ways that can put an extra strain on their heart. The physical symptoms of anxiety can be especially damaging among individuals with existing cardiac disease.
Anxiety may have an association with the following heart disorders and cardiac risk factors:
- Rapid heart rate In serious cases, can interfere with normal heart function and increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest.
- Increased blood pressure If chronic, can lead to coronary disease, weakening of the heart muscle, and heart failure.
- May result in higher incidence of death after an acute heart attack.
What Else Can Cause Your Chest To Feel Tight
Causes of chest tightness run the gamut from the relatively benign like indigestion to a gallbladder attack to a potentially life-threatening heart attack or a pulmonary embolism , says Dr. Cazabon. Thats why its such a tricky diagnosis to make.
Why is chest tightness associated with so many ailments? The chest and upper abdomen are integrated from one nerve, explains Dr. Cazabon. The vagus nerve travels from the brain all the way to the gastrointestinal tract, but it just registers nonspecific pain. You need to know more of the story to zero in on a reason.
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How Can You Tell The Difference
Heart attack symptoms include:
- Racing heart
- Shaking and sweating
Both of these conditions can have at least two overlapping symptoms, and knowing how the symptoms occur can be a lifesaver.
1. The pain severity For a panic attack, the chest pain is sharp and localized to the center of the chest. During a heart attack, you will feel pressure and a squeezing sensation starting from the center of the heart spreading to the arm, jaw, and shoulder blades.
2. Duration of the symptomsAlthough for both heart attack and anxiety the symptoms may appear suddenly, the duration can tell you which is which.
Most anxiety attacks last for 20 to 30 minutes, while for heart attacks the symptoms can last longer and worsen with time.
What Does Anxiety Chest Pain Feel Like
Anxiety symptoms are rarely the same from person to person and may present as a whole host of mental and physical reactions.
Chest pain associated with anxiety may build gradually for some, or come on suddenly for others. As such, anxiety chest pain can be described as:
- Persistent chest aching
- Sharp, shooting pain in the chest or abdomen
- An unusual muscle spasm or twitch in your chest
- Numbness, burning, or a dull ache
- Stabbing pressure
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Treatment Of Panic Disorder In Patients With Chest Pain
Panic disorder, as described above, can have profound effects on social, financial, and occupational function, as well as on elevated rates of cardiovascular disease. Fortunately, PD is highly treatable, as borne out by a number of trials using both pharmacologic and psychotherapeutic treatments. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors , venlafaxine, and tricyclic antidepressants are among the antidepressants with proven efficacy in PD, with rates of response of approximately 50% to 70% over several months. Benzodiazepines, especially alprazolam and clonazepam, have also been proved effective in PD. Furthermore, cognitive-behavioral therapy , the best studied of the psychotherapies for PD, appears to be comparable to medication in the treatment of PD. Treatment of patients with PD can be individualized on the basis of a patient’s preference for medication or psychotherapy, prior history of response, presence of comorbidity, and severity of symptoms.
Can I Treat Chest Pain At Home
Many things can cause chest pain or discomfort. Some arenât life-threatening, including:
- A bad cough
But chest pain can also be a sign of a heart attack or another heart problem. Angina is chest pain, usually short-lived and often relieved by rest, that happens because the heart isnât getting enough oxygen. The pain is usually in the chest and may also be felt in the shoulder, arm, or jaw.
The treatment for angina depends on the severity of the symptoms and the results of tests that are done to find the cause. If your doctor has diagnosed you with angina, follow their recommendations. This may mean rest and medication. It may include a visit to the hospital emergency room.
If youâre unsure of the cause of the chest pain or if you have any other symptoms of a heart attack, donât wait! Immediate help is your best chance for survival if you are having a heart attack or other serious problem.
- Chest pain from an unknown cause. It might feel like tightness, pressure, fullness, or squeezing. It may last more than a few minutes, or go away and come back.
- Pain or discomfort in one or both of your arms, shoulders, neck, jaw, or stomach
- Cold sweat
- Shortness of breath
- Upper back pressure
- Extreme tiredness that may last for days. Simple tasks, like making the bed or walking to the bathroom, might wear you out.
- Fast or irregular heart beats
- A feeling of fullness, indigestion, or choking that feels like heartburn
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Functional Morbidity With Chest Pain And Normal Coronary Arteries
A number of researchers have also examined functional disability and persistence of symptoms in patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries, of whom approximately 40% have PD. Ockene and coworkers followed 37 patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries for 6 to 37 months. At follow-up, 70% of such patients had continued chest pain, 51% reported being unable to work due to their symptoms, and 47% had their usual daily activities limited by chest pain despite normal angiograms. Similarly, Lavey and Winkle followed 45 patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries for a mean of 3.5 years after their normal angiogram. Fully 82% of the patients continued to see physicians for cardiac complaints, and, of the patients whose activities had been limited by symptoms, 79% continued to have functional limitations to the same or greater degree. Finally, a larger study following 1977 chest pain patients without significant coronary artery disease for a mean of 6 years found that 70% of such patients continued to have chest pain over this period, and fully half reported being unable to exert themselves as a result of their symptoms.
Functional Morbidity With Pd And Chest Pain
The above studies suggest that patients with PD and chest pain have substantial functional morbidity, since patients with PD make up a sizeable portion of patients with chest pain and normal coronary arteries. However, no direct study of patients with chest pain and PD was completed until a study by Beitman and colleagues in 1991. This study of patients with chest pain and normal coronary angiograms found that patients with PD had greater functional disability at follow-up 38 months later than did those without PD. The patients with PD had high rates of persistent chest pain 22% found that their chest pain had worsened after their normal angiogram. Further, nearly half of these patients had difficulty with ordinary activities due to their symptoms, and 31% felt that their general health had worsened over this period. The patients also had work difficulties, missing more than 16 workdays in the previous year due to their symptoms. Despite this significant disability, only one third of the patients were prescribed psychotropic medications, and less than a quarter sought psychiatric care. These rates of persistent chest pain, worsening health perception, and inability to complete daily activities were significantly worse than in matched patients with normal angiograms but no PD. Further, the patients with normal angiograms and PD reported worse social adjustment, higher anxiety, and more psychological distress than their counterparts without PD.
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How A Heart Attack And Anxiety Occurs
A heart attack occurs when the blood supply has been cut short or blocked and the heart cant get enough oxygen. If the blood flow is not restored, that section of the heart will begin to die. Plaque buildup in the arteries and blood vessels can cause the blockage.
A heart attack is a medical emergency so go to the nearest emergency room when you notice any of the warning signs.
Anxiety attacks, on the other hand, occurs when you have a fear that something bad is going to happen. Anxiety is a non-medical situation, but it can cause muscle tension.
Anxiety attacks have been linked to stress. The irony is, although it cant cause a heart attack, stress plays a role in coronary artery disease development. Plus, people with heart attacks may also experience anxiety.
Take note anxiety and panic attacks are different, though they are usually used interchangeably. In most cases, anxiety relates to a specific event or situation. Panic attack, on the other hand, can happen without a trigger. Furthermore, panic attacks are severe than anxiety symptoms.
Frightening Symptoms Of Anxiety
Chest tightness is an anxiety symptom that often causes a severe amount of distress. That is because chest tightness has a negative connotation that links it to severe health conditions. This can be very daunting for individuals who do not know much about the physical effects of stress and anxiety in their lives.
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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.
Is It Anxiety Or Something Else
Because so many things can cause chest tightness, its one of the trickiest symptoms to diagnose, says Dr. Cazabon.
One way to suspect its anxiety is to think about whats going on in your life at the moment. Is there any kind of clear stressor thats happening that might explain why youre more anxious? says Dr. Gaynes. Trouble at work or in a relationship may help explain the symptom. So may feelings of fear.
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