Difficulty breathing, pounding heart, chest or stomach pain,
and fear are all symptoms of a heart attack. They’re also symptoms of a panic
The difference is a panic attack, while scary and something
to avoid, isn’t life threatening. So how do you know if you should go to the
If in doubt, call 911. It’s difficult to discern between the
two without medical tests. The symptoms can also indicate other serious
conditions such as blood clots in the lungs or a lung collapse. If it is a
heart attack, a pulmonary embolus, or a collapsed lung, speedy care can save
Particularly, if you’re over 40, have risk factors for heart
disease, or don’t have a history of panic attacks, go to the hospital. Risk
factors for heart disease include:
- High-blood pressure
- High cholesterol
If you’re prone to panic attacks and your symptoms feel familiar,
you can try taking steps to calm yourself. Stressful situations can bring a
panic attack on. Sit or lie down and try to slow your breathing. Take long, gentle
breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. Panic attacks usually
subside within 60 minutes.
If it feels different from previous panic attacks or your
conditions worsen or persist, go to an emergency room.
Your primary care doctor can help if you experience frequent
panic attacks or anxiety. Sudden feelings of
terror when there is no danger, or a loss of control are common signs. Panic
attacks can lead to a fear that they will happen again. In extreme cases,
people avoid leaving the home. Most people get better with treatment such as
talk therapy or medication.
Your Premera health plan
comes with behavioral health benefits. Learn more about mental
healthcare providers and treatment options.