Heart Attack

What is the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack?

A Answers (1)

  • AAnthony Komaroff, MD, Internal Medicine, answered
    Both a panic (anxiety) attack and a heart attack can cause shortness of breath, sweating, or dizziness. Below are some of the factors that help to differentiate a panic attack from a heart attack. (Note that anyone having these symptoms should seek immediate medical help.)

    More likely a panic attack:
    • Sudden onset of fear or terror in conjunction with heart palpitations or chest pain
    • Pain and discomfort tend to occur in the center of the chest
    • Chest pain and other symptoms subside after 5 to 30 minutes
    More likely a heart attack:
    • Gradual onset (over several minutes) of pain, pressure, or tightness in chest and upper body
    • Pain may occur in center of chest but may also radiate to upper body (arms, shoulders, or jaw)
    • Symptoms last at least 15 minutes without subsiding in intensity and may continue for hours
    Helpful? 2 people found this helpful.
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