START A PETITION 27,000,000 members: the world's largest community for good

Cardiac Arrest or a Panic Attack?

  • 2 of 3

Hit the Panic Button
You may not know if you or someone next to you is having a heart attack, but you will absolutely know if it’s a panic attack. Panic attacks are sudden and abrupt; they usually last only about ten minutes and will leave you unharmed after they pass. That said, those ten minutes pack a real wallop. Symptoms of a panic attack, according to WebMD, include:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Heart pounding
  • Chest pain
  • An intense feeling of terror, especially that you are about to die
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Tremors or shaking
  • Cold sweats
  • Nausea or stomach cramps
  • Tingling or numbness in the fingers and toes
  • Chills or hot flashes
  • A sensation of choking or suffocating

People who have panic attacks often suffer from panic disorder, the most characteristic symptom of which is the persistent fear of future panic attacks. This fear can be so intense that it escalates to agoraphobia, or the avoidance of places and situations in which a person has had or believes she might have an attack.

It’s important to distinguish panic disorder from generalized anxiety. A panic attack is an acute fear response that is disproportionate with a non-life-threatening situation. It’s a misfired fight-or-flight reaction. Over time and with repeated attacks, a person with panic disorder develops a general fear about having attacks that affects her quality of life.

Don’t Panic! You’re Probably Okay
The irony is that the fact that even when you’re mistaken in believing you’re dying from a heart attack, such thinking will worsen your panic disorder. When you’re caught up in these very real and very frightening sensations, it’s nearly impossible to think objectively, so how can you tell what’s really going on and how best to respond?

If there’s any question in your mind that your life is in danger, go to the emergency room. It’s better to be safe than sorry, even if you have to spend your afternoon in the hospital, just to be sent home with a clean bill of health. I’ve been that girl, and it seems frivolous in retrospect, but at the time, I absolutely needed someone in a white coat to promise me I wasn’t dying.

  • 2 of 3

Read more: Conditions, Health, , , ,

have you shared this story yet?

go ahead, give it a little love


At, women come together to learn from experts in the fields, of health, sustainability, and culture; to reflect on shared experiences; and to express themselves by writing and publishing stories about anything that matters to them. Here, real women publish like real pros. Together, with our staff writers, they’re discussing all facets of women’s lives from relationships and careers, to travel and healthy living. So come discover, read, learn, laugh and connect at


+ add your own
4:43AM PST on Nov 12, 2013

Well, the first time I had a major attack they put me on xanax but it messed with my head really badly and I had memory issues. My discharge papers noted that while medicated by it I had little to no acknowledgement of externally inflicted bodily harm/pain. What I do remember is waking up the next day with a swollen ankle and multiple bruises that hurry like hell from walking into things or just letting the car door close on me.
Later, someone recommended me this treatment, and I’m very grateful with it, i can go anywhere i want without problem, no anxiety, no panic attacks, i'm a new person. Read this article, it helped me a lot!! :

2:29AM PST on Mar 6, 2012


12:29AM PST on Dec 24, 2011


7:39PM PDT on May 8, 2011

Thank you for this. It definitely hits home. I have had panic attacks and I believe I suffer panic disorder. I deal with panic on a regular basis. I have also thought I was having a heart attack. No fun! I hope I can one day put panic attacks behind me...

7:36PM PST on Mar 12, 2011

Please check out the important info on this site:

A simpler screening tool for panic disorder, consisting of a single question, also has been developed. The question is, “Have you experienced brief periods, for seconds or minutes, of an overwhelming panic or terror that was accompanied by racing heartbeats, shortness of breath, or dizziness?”10 The physician must remember that panic disorder and significant arrhythmias are not mutually exclusive, and that cardiac evaluation still may be necessary in patients with suspected panic disorder. In addition, some patients or physicians may find it difficult to determine whether the feeling of anxiety or panic started before or after the palpitations. Therefore, true arrhythmic causes must be ruled out before the diagnosis of anxiety or panic disorder can be accepted as the cause of the palpitations.1,11,12

7:30PM PST on Mar 12, 2011

I agree with some of this article but pls do read Janya Barrish's article as that is extremely relevant too.

7:12PM PST on Mar 12, 2011

I agree that its very important to know the signs and symptoms of cardiac arrest versus a Panic Attack. I agree with the spirit of what this article says, but please note that a Panic Attack is NOT not dangerous. Lately, I have been reading on several sites that Panic Attacks do not pose a danger, but from someone who has chronic panic attacks and has had them to a lesser or greater degree for the last 7 years - PANIC ATTACKS with uncontrolled Tachycardia (racing heart, rapid heart beats) can be very dangerous. I once had a panic attack, where my heart just took off and would not stop racing. I was nauseous, could not breathe and began to turn blue- my finger nails and my face especially. I was counting my last moments. When EMS arrived, they said my pulse was racing at quite at quite a high level. They gave me an exercise to perform in such moments which is basically bearing down on as if you were going to the bathroom, as when constipated. Also splashing your face with cold water or a wet towel on the face helps. If I had not somehow got my ticker back in some semblance of normal rhythm, I would not be around today, writing this. Remember, that panic attacks can arise of out of many reasons. People with MVP (Mitral Valve Prolapse) have panic attacks. There are several types of Tachycardias, some of which are dangerous and can be misdiagnosed as supposedly simple Panic Attacks. Again, one must distinguish between feelings of panic, versus a real Panic Attack.

7:05PM PDT on Sep 29, 2010

very good article. many people do not easily distinguish the difference between panic, anxiety, or even a heart attack. I found this site to be very useful

4:37AM PDT on Aug 13, 2010

Good info,thanks.

3:04AM PDT on Apr 13, 2010

i suffer from panic attacks!
I'm pretty better now! I can have a normal life!
thanks for the article!

add your comment

Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

people are talking

Thank you for the information

Thank you for sharing rhese good tips. *_*

Considering the crap I hear against women and sex coming from the GOP, I wonder why Americans should…

thanks for important info about rabies for our furry friends

Some I believe, some I do not in this article. Everyone is different and deals with things in diffe…


Select names from your address book   |   Help

We hate spam. We do not sell or share the email addresses you provide.

site feedback


Problem on this page? Briefly let us know what isn't working for you and we'll try to make it right!