HCA Midwest Health - December 18, 2017

If you are experiencing chest pain, you should go to the emergency room or call 911. Too many people wait too long to head to an ER with heart attack symptoms and delaying treatment can have tragic consequences.

Panic attack and heart attacks have similar symptoms. In fact, if you put them side by side it can be hard to tell the difference. BOTH can appear with the following symptoms:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Rapid, pounding heart rate
  • Shortness of breath
  • Anxiety
  • Dizziness, lightheadedness or faintness
  • Sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting

While panic attacks are intensely uncomfortable, they are not life threatening. Heart attacks are. So how do you tell the difference? You don’t. You need to see a medical professional with the training and equipment to diagnose the cause of your symptoms, such as at the HCA Midwest Health hospital close to you. It’s important to educate yourself on heart attack signs and symptoms and to treat any indication that you may be having a heart attack as an emergency.

“Patients who experience heart-attack-like symptoms should go to the ER,” said Dr. Steve Marso, one of the nation’s top heart experts and the Medical Director of Cardiovascular Services at HCA Midwest Health. “In a heart attack or any emergency, you need the right care at the right place as quickly as possible.”

The hospitals of HCA Midwest Health offer quick, effective emergency care for heart attack or any condition that threatens life or health. Our advanced heart care includes the area’s only network of award-winning, accredited chest pain centers.

If you have a diagnosed panic disorder and think your symptoms may be a panic attack you can try deep breathing or meditation to see if the symptoms improve. Calming yourself will help a panic attack, but not a heart attack. Don’t delay long, though, and seek help if there is any question about the cause of your symptoms.

“Women, especially, often miss the signs of a heart attack, thinking it is just stress or other causes” said Dr. Marso. “Don’t delay. Only through medical tests can we rule out the possibility of a heart attack. And if it is a heart attack, you’ll be in the right place to get the emergency treatment you need for the best outcome.”

It’s also important not to self-diagnose anxiety or panic disorders. Some abnormal heart rhythms can cause anxiety symptoms and physicians need to rule out other medical causes before treating anxiety or panic disorders.

Find a Cardiologist

Heart Disease Risk Assessment