Anxiety vs Heart Attack: Difference and Comparison

If seen, the symptoms of both anxiety and heart attack are almost the same, but still, there is a lot of difference between these two and their cause.

The chances of getting Anxiety or heart attack increase when someone has tension or gets chills or hot flashes. There are different symptoms in the body also when we get Anxiety or heart Attack.

Key Takeaways

  1. Anxiety symptoms, such as rapid heartbeat, shortness of breath, and chest pain, can mimic heart attack symptoms, leading to confusion between the two.
  2. Heart attacks are caused by blocked blood flow to the heart muscle, while anxiety is a psychological response to stress, fear, or apprehension.
  3. It is essential to seek medical attention if experiencing chest pain or other heart attack symptoms, as early intervention can save lives and prevent further damage to the heart.

Anxiety vs Heart attack

The difference between anxiety and a heart attack is that anxiety occurs when stress triggers the hormone “fight or flight” in the human body, which is caused by anxiety and panic, whereas, in a heart attack, the situation is almost the same.  When a person has a coronary artery, then this problem may occur at that time, such as “rapid heartbeat, chest pain, shortness of breath. 

Anxiety vs Heart attack

“Anxiety” actually happens due to excessive stress in uncomfortable situations or surroundings. When we think too much, we remain under stress and all this increases the blood pressure in our body.

Anxiety disorder has become a common illness in humans at currently time. During an Anxiety attack, pain starts in the chest.

A heart attack mainly occurs because of blockage of the blood to the heart due to the blood clots, which indirectly restrict the flow of oxygen to the tissues or muscles; however, other day-to-day life activities also cause the heart attack, like when a person not having a healthy life or too much tension or eating too much of junk which leads to obesity. Obesity is also one of the main reasons for heart attacks.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonAnxietyHeart attack
DefinitionAnxiety attack hits hard when a person feels helpless or weak, it weakens our will and completely breaks mental strength. In one way or another way, Anxiety or panic attack is common in most adults.A heart attack occurs when the flow of blood through an artery is blocked and prevents oxygen.
SymptomsIn an Anxiety attack, an individual might feel a little suffocated, sweating, pounding heart, or sharp and stabbing pain in the chest.Before a heart attack occurs, its symptoms are known, due to which the person becomes aware in advance.  Symptoms include chest pain or pressure, increased heartbeat, light-headedness, sweating, body aches, restlessness, shortness of breath, vomiting, etc.
DurationAnxiety attack comes for a short time.A heart attack does not go away quickly, i.e. it lasts for a long time.
Location of painIn anxiety, the pain is confined to the chest only.The pain in a heart attack tends to radiate from one place, from the chest to the arms, jaw, and shoulder.
Risk factorThe main factor of an anxiety attack is stress which spoils an individual’s mental health.The main heart attack factors are smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.

What is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a sudden attack of formidable fear, and this attack is not life-frightening, however, they do affect our daily life quality and make us cranky over some time and sometimes short-tempered as well. Anxiety attack hits hard when a person feels helpless or weak, it weakens our will and completely breaks mental strength.

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In one way or another way, Anxiety or panic attack is common in most adults. In an Anxiety attack, an individual might feel a little suffocated, have sudden sweat, pounding of heart, or sharp and stabbing pain in the chest.

In anxiety, we lose control of our mind, which prevents us from doing things that we are afraid to do, like crossing the road or taking any decision at the moment or sometimes, it just blacks out as well, and fear of heights is because of all these. If its treatment is not done at the right time, it might spoil an individual’s mental health.

If seen, the disorder of both anxiety and emotion is the same.  This can happen to people of all ages at any time.

Psychiatrists say that this problem is found more in women, if we talk about men, then it is found less than in women.” The types of anxiety disorders like panic disorder, phobia, social Anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety disorder, illness anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.

What is Heart Attack?

A heart attack is caused by the closure or failure of more than one “coronary artery” arteries get blocked due to blood clots that obstruct the flow of blood and oxygen to the heart, which indirectly restricts the flow of oxygen to the tissues or muscles. The basic symptom of the heart is a bit similar to an Anxiety attack where we get pain in the chest; however, in a heart attack, pain starts from the chest, like squeezing and radiates to the arm, shoulder, and jaw, especially to the left side of the body.

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There are multiple factors why an individual gets a heart attack like when a person eats more fried or roasted food, it builds up fat in his body and causes problems like high cholesterol, and from this, a substance called “plaque” is formed, due to which the arteries (atherosclerosis) can become smaller. Coronary artery disease can be said to be the biggest cause of heart attacks.

A plaque rupture occurs when someone has a heart attack, allowing cholesterol and other substances to mix into the bloodstream.  Due to the rupture, a blood clot is formed around that place. 

If the clot is large, the coronary artery can block blood flow, leading to a lack of oxygen and nutrients to the heart (ischemia). There may be a possibility of a complete or minor blockage of a coronary artery in your heart.

Less blockage means you have had a non-ST elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI). There may be different diagnoses and treatments. If any of these two have happened to you.

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Main Differences Between Anxiety and Heart Attack

We get confused between Anxiety and Heart Attacks because of their symptoms and cause.

The distinguishing factor between Anxiety and heart attack relations can be summed up on the following grounds.

  1. Whenever an anxiety attack occurs, there is suddenly more pain in the chest, and that pain is more localized, whereas when there is a heart attack, it does not cause so much pain but increases rapidly.
  2. In anxiety, the pain is confined to the chest only, while the pain in a heart attack tends to radiate from one place, that is, from the chest to the arms, jaw, and shoulder.
  3. A panic attack lasts for a short time, i.e. pain lasts for at least 1 hour, whereas a heart attack does not go away quickly, i.e., lasts for a long time.
  4. Anxiety attack hits hard when a person feels helpless or weak. It weakens our will and completely breaks mental strength, whereas a heart attack occurs when the flow of blood through an artery is blocked and prevents oxygen.
  5. The main factor of an anxiety attack is stress, whereas the main factor of a heart attack is smoking, obesity, high cholesterol, high blood pressure, etc.
Difference Between Anxiety and Heart Attack
References
  1. https://heart.bmj.com/content/38/7/752.short
  2. https://psychotherapy.psychiatryonline.org/doi/pdf/10.1176/appi.psychotherapy.1973.27.3.360
  3. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/000579679290045I

Last Updated : 13 July, 2023

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8 thoughts on “Anxiety vs Heart Attack: Difference and Comparison”

  1. The comparison table provided is a helpful tool to understand the differences between anxiety and heart attack. It’s important to be able to recognize the symptoms and risk factors of each in order to prevent and manage them effectively.

    Reply
  2. The distinction between anxiety and a heart attack is well-explained, shedding light on their respective causes and symptoms. This knowledge can help individuals recognize and address their health concerns effectively.

    Reply
  3. It’s crucial to understand that heart attacks have long-lasting effects and require immediate medical attention. This article provides valuable information about the symptoms and risk factors that could save lives.

    Reply
  4. The comprehensive information provided about anxiety and heart attacks is essential for raising awareness about these serious health issues. It is important to understand their differences and seek professional help when necessary.

    Reply
  5. When dealing with such serious health issues, it is crucial to differentiate between the symptoms of anxiety and heart attack. Both of these conditions can be dangerous, so it is of utmost importance to seek immediate medical attention in the case of chest pain or other symptoms.

    Reply
  6. The detailed explanation of anxiety and the various disorders related to it is enlightening. It highlights the severity of these disorders and the impact they can have on an individual’s mental well-being.

    Reply
  7. The description of the causes and symptoms of a heart attack is quite thorough. It stresses the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle in order to prevent serious heart conditions.

    Reply
  8. It’s interesting to understand how stress and anxiety can lead to physical symptoms similar to those of a heart attack. It goes to show the important link between mental and physical health, and the need to address both aspects in a holistic manner.

    Reply

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