When anxiety feels like a heart attack

Do you know what the number one killer in North America is? If you guessed Cancer, you would be incorrect. The correct answer is heart disease, such as heart attacks.

One might think that heart attacks feel distinctive, such as a tightening of the chest, and severe pain, but some studies have shown that many heart attacks don’t produce very much pain.

What can also happen are heart attack-like symptoms which aren’t heart attacks, but simply severe stress.

According to an article in Prevention Magazine, Dr. Arthur Agatston, a cardiologist and inventor of the South Beach Diet, reported that extreme stress can make people feel like they’re having heart attacks, with pain and shortness of breath.

The symptoms, called Broken Heart Syndrome, are emotionally, not physically-rooted, and affect mostly middle-aged men and women with a median age of 60.

Dr. Agatston wrote that the anxiety attacks do not carry long-term medical consequences, and suffering one does not necessarily make someone more likely to experience it again in the future, but it should serve as a warning to people to try and control the amount of anxiety and fear in their lives.

Dr. Agatston has a few suggestions for the next time you feel panicked or anxious: try slow breathing. If you still feel pain, call 911.