If you are confused that tightness in the chest and shortness of breath are symptoms preceding heart attack or may just be a sign of anxiety, don't worry, you have lots of company.
If you have shortness of breath and think you are having a heart attack, get it checked out, especially if you have preconditions for cardiac illness or have a family history of heart disease. If your cardiac doctor or an emergency room rules out a heart attack or heart disease, that's great news, those are less things to worry about!
If causes of cardiac-type symptoms remain unclear, assessing and treating physical and mental symptoms can be useful. For example, untreated staph or strep infections can cause heart problems and result in situational anxiety.
Anxiety symptoms can often include tightness in the chest, shortness of breath, feelings of fainting (primarily from hyper ventilation), and dry mouth. Since certain heart disease conditions, such a widow maker can also manifest such symptoms, an emergency room can 'usually' rule these out larger concerns with test results. As physicians advise, it is better to learn that you are not having a heart attack in an ER, then it is to learn you are having a heart attack in your home.
While interviewing people whom have experienced anxiety and were later also diagnosed with major heart conditions, I was informed that pre-diagnosis questionnaires for both ailments (tests for Anxiety and questionnaires for heart attacks) included, "have you experienced sudden onsets of anxiety?"
Reducing anxiety and stress are good measures for both mental and physical ailments, and taking a baby Aspirin and getting checked out for onset of heart disease is fairly quick and easy.
For some time, there has been a demonstrated link between having a massive heart attack and follow-on levels of anxiety and depression that may persist for sometime.
Research and clinical experience now demonstrate a link to 'chest pain anxiety' and the potential onset of widow maker heart preconditions in some people. The mechanism for 'cardiac induced anxiety' can be exacerbated by the heart muscle's lack of focal pain receptors, such receptors in the heart are commonly referred to as visceral receptors, and may be initially coupled with referred pains to other areas and organs in the body. Anxiety can also just result from neurotic psychological processes.
When a patient is approaching severe cardiac blockage, for example in the left main artery of the left heart ventricle, 'symptoms' including situational anxiety, shortness of breath, sweating, stiffness in the neck, or persistent indigestion and predominant left arm fatigue and numbness 'may' manifest in months preceding onset of cardiac failure.
Mounting hospital case surveys corresponding to situational ‘cardiac anxiety’ coupled with confirmed angiogram cardiac blockages imply the human subconscious may be able to pre-identify developing fatal conditions through neural pathways from diseased organs that respond to onset of serious complications, such as widow maker, and transmit these signals to the subconscious mind that interprets the threat as 'anxiety' before the onset of cardiac arrest. Experiencing anxiety does not imply cardiac disease. There can be many reasons for anxiety, including simple elevated responses to perceived internal or external threats, and can have origins in either physical or mental processes.
Ruling out cardiac disease, before or during diagnosis and treatment of cardiac-symptom related anxiety is recommended, versus declaring cardiac disease is not present as result of solely performing psychological testing and analysis when cardiac-type symptoms appear. When in doubt, contact your doctor or call 911.
Reducing stress and concern is appropriate and useful in either case. Take time to relax!
For more information on cardiac risk and anxiety we recommend the following links:
LINKS FOR REDUCING ANXIETY
LINKS FOR HEART HEALTH INFORMATION