4 Key Differences: Panic Attack vs. Heart Attack


Panic attack vs. heart attack

Chances are if you’re reading this article you either are or have experienced symptoms of what could be a heart attack.

It is important that you not try to play WebMD with yourself and seek a professional as soon as you experience these symptoms. Let them determine if it is a panic attack vs heart attack.

It they conclude that it is indeed a panic attack… Game on!

Since the symptoms of both are so similar, lets take a look at the two:

Panic Attack vs. Heart Attack: Am I having a Panic Attack?

Panic attacks are like these intense moments where you feel scared or uncomfortable, and it all hits you like a ton of bricks, usually lasting just a few minutes. It’s not just the mental stuff—it also messes with you physically.

When someone’s having an anxiety attack, they might feel like something awful is about to happen or worry that they’re gonna completely lose it. Here are some usual signs to watch out for:

  • Rapid heartbeat or palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy
  • Nausea or abdominal distress
  • Chills or hot flashes

Understanding Heart Attacks

In contrast, a heart attack, medically known as a myocardial infarction, occurs when blood flow to the heart is blocked, resulting in damage or death of the heart muscle.

It is imperative to recognize the signs of a heart attack as it is a medical emergency requiring immediate attention. The symptoms of a heart attack may include:

  • Severe chest pain or pressure, which may radiate to the arm, jaw, or back
  • Shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
  • Profuse sweating
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • A feeling of impending doom

Difference Between Panic Attack vs. Heart Attack

1. Symptoms and Onset

One of the primary factors distinguishing a panic attack vs. heart attack lies in the symptoms and their onset.

Panic attacks tend to have a sudden onset and reach their peak within a short duration, while the symptoms of a heart attack may develop gradually or manifest suddenly.

2. Nature of Pain

Although both panic attacks and heart attacks may involve chest pain, the nature of the pain differs.

During panic attacks, individuals may describe the chest pain as sharp and fleeting, while chest pain associated with heart attacks is often described as a crushing, heavy sensation.

3. Associated Symptoms

This is the area where symptoms appear very similar. Panic attacks may involve symptoms such as trembling, sweating.

Your head feels like it’s spinning out of control. On the other hand, heart attacks commonly present with symptoms such as shortness of breath, nausea, and profuse sweating.

4. Triggers and Risk Factors

Panic attacks are often triggered by specific situations or circumstances, such as crowded places or stressful events.

Conversely, heart attacks are primarily caused by atherosclerosis, which is the buildup of plaque in the arteries. Risk factors for heart attacks include high blood pressure, high cholesterol levels, smoking, and obesity.

Seeking Medical Assistance

It is essential to emphasize that self-diagnosis can be misleading and potentially dangerous. Don’t do it!

If you or someone you know experiences symptoms resembling a heart attack, it is crucial to seek immediate medical attention immediately. Only qualified healthcare professionals can accurately diagnose and provide appropriate treatment.

Panic Attack vs Heart Attack: 4 Key Differences

The Cure

Understanding the symptoms and thoughts behind anxiety disorder is key to defeating it. This takes a program to guide you through the process of unlearning the ways we react to situations and let them spiral out of control.

Read my story here. The thoughts and feelings associated with panic disorder are widespread. YOU CAN BEAT THIS.


In the face of symptoms that may suggest a panic attack vs. heart attack, the first and most crucial step is not to self-diagnose but to seek professional medical evaluation promptly.

Trained healthcare providers are equipped to differentiate between these conditions accurately, as both share some common symptoms but have distinctive characteristics.

Panic attacks can be intense, with both mental and physical manifestations such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and chest discomfort.

Conversely, heart attacks are a medical emergency, characterized by severe chest pain or pressure, often radiating to other areas like the arm or jaw, along with symptoms like shortness of breath and profuse sweating.

Recognizing the differences between a panic attack vs. heart attack, such as the nature of chest pain and associated symptoms, is crucial for timely intervention.

Panic attacks typically have a sudden onset and may be triggered by specific situations, while heart attacks may develop more gradually and are primarily caused by factors like atherosclerosis.

The key takeaway here is never to attempt self-diagnosis but to immediately seek medical assistance when facing symptoms that raise concerns. Professional evaluation is essential for accurate diagnosis and appropriate treatment.

Furthermore, understanding anxiety disorders, such as panic attacks, is a critical step towards managing and overcoming them.

Seeking guidance and support from healthcare professionals or structured programs can provide valuable tools to regain control over one’s mental and emotional well-being. Remember, with the right support and strategies, it is possible to overcome anxiety disorders and lead a fulfilling life.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered a substitute for professional medical advice. If you are experiencing severe or persistent anxiety, please consult a qualified healthcare professional for personalized guidance and support.


How do I know if I had a heart attack or a panic attack?

How do I know if I'm having a heart attack or panic attack?

Determining whether you’ve had a heart attack or a panic attack can be challenging because they share similar symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath, and sweating.

However, a key difference is that heart attack pain often radiates to other parts of the body like the arm, jaw, or back, and it usually occurs during physical exertion, while panic attacks can happen at rest source.

If you experience these symptoms, especially if they’re severe or persist, it’s crucial to seek immediate medical attention to rule out a heart attack.

What are the 4 signs of an impending heart attack?

4 signs of an impending heart attack.

The four signs of an impending heart attack often include chest discomfort or pain that may feel like pressure, tightness, or aching. Other signs can be discomfort in other areas of your body like the arm, neck, and jaw, as well as difficulty breathing.

Some people may also experience symptoms like dizziness, fainting, and pressure or fullness in the center of the chest that spreads to the arms source, source, source, source.

Can panic attacks damage your heart?

Can a panic attack damage your heart?

Panic attacks can be linked to a higher risk of heart attacks and heart disease, particularly in younger people source.

While panic attacks themselves are typically not life-threatening like a heart attack, they can exacerbate underlying cardiac problems and potentially trigger cardiac events in individuals with pre-existing heart conditions source, source.

Therefore, regular panic attacks may increase the risk of heart-related issues over time.

Henry Flury

Henry Flury, the guitarist from Butcher Babies, shares his journey of overcoming panic attacks to help others facing the same issue. He started writing to fill the gap in panic attack education online. His blog focuses on understanding anxious thoughts and offers guidance on managing panic attacks for anyone dealing with panic disorder.


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