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Legitimate heart issue, or panic attack?
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Legitimate heart issue, or panic attack?

Hi! Thought I'd post this here as well just to make the rounds.
I am 32 years old, and substantially over weight. I am ready to lose the weight (again), but I have this setback precluding me from exercising, though I hope it's all in my head.  
My situation looks like this:
About a month ago on January 21,  I woke up from sleep having what for all intents and purposes ended up being a panic attack - at least I hope that's what it was.
My heart was pounding, and I started sweating. I was scared to death, and was afraid I was having a heart attack. I live alone, but for some reason, I ended up calling my mom before I called an ambulance. She asked me my symptoms, and talked me down. When I initially called her, my pulse was 111, and my blood pressure was 171/109. After drinking some chamomile tea, and talking to her, my blood pressure was down to133/86, and my pulse was 81. I had not ever been to a cardiologist, but I made an appointment, and was able to get in the same day. He said my EKG was normal, and that I most likely did not have a heart attack. He scheduled a stress test, and an electrocardiogram for the next day. After testing he said my results were normal, and I should have a sleep study. The sleep study was also normal.
Since this happened, I have had the same weird thing happen at night (though maybe not quite as severe) a couple of times, and I'm completely scared that I'm going to have a heart attack. Sometimes I have some mild chest/arm pain, and what feels like shortness of breath. It has happened when I've been around my parents, and they both say that I'm not really short of breath, although it feels like it to me.
I guess I'm wondering if there's anything I need to be worried about, or if I am just experiencing anxiety attacks or something. I'm sometimes worried that the stress test, and the echo weren't definitive, and I could have a massive heart attack.
I truly appreciate any feedback, it means a lot to me. Thank you!
Avatar_dr_f_tn
It sounds like you've been through a lot! You did the right thing by being evaluated by a cardiologist.  A lot of things can cause your symptoms, including panic attack, paroxysms of supraventricular tachycardia, and a lot of other things.  An event monitor might be helpful for you too.  It allows you to check your heart's rhythm during these episodes to see whether supraventricular tachycardia or some other rhythm disorder is related to your symptoms.  

The important thing to realize is that your problem may not be primarily cardiovascular. You should talk with your internist for a complete history and physical exam to exclude other possible causes of your symptoms.
9 Comments
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Avatar_m_tn
Thank you so much! At least I can relax in thinking that I'm going to have a heart attack. Will investigate the event monitor.
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63984_tn?1385441539
The event monitor makes a lot of sense to me, as suggested, if symptoms continue.  It is a device that you 'wear' for a prescribed time, I've worn them for 24 hours to 72 hours.  It records your heart beats for a period of time.  If you have a dangerous heart condition, chances are it will catch it.  

The event monitor, in my case, found a goofy heart rate, but not life-threatening.  I later had some unrelated heart issues, but wearing a monitor might give you some peace of mind.  Keep us informed.
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Avatar_m_tn
Thanks for your input as well, it definitely helps me rest a bit easier. It doesn't really make the events any less frightening, but at least in the back of my mind I kind of know that it's probably not a heart attack! I'll ask for the event monitor when I next see my doctor. I'll definitely keep everyone informed!
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7704267_tn?1393481836
I had an ekg done by para medics after what I thought was a heart attack, it revealed nothing. I had my wife drive me to the hospital that night for further evaluation. The hours there revealed nothing. I made an appointment with the VA cardiologist, he saw nothing either. I left the VA strapped down with a heart monitor for 24hrs. When I returned to the VA the cardiologist informed me that I'd some heart damage. He set me up w/ a stress test. The tech was seeing nothing. Then out of the blue as my heart rate increased she said, "There it is, you can't see it until you get worked up but there it is". On the graph was a large crescent dip. I had had a major heart attack the night I'd called the ambulance. Down to the Denver VA I went. I had 3 stents placed in my lower left, erm... that artery which feeds that part of the heart. It had been completely blocked for a very long time. I wonder now if that is why I'd so much trouble running during my 8yrs in the army. :/
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Avatar_m_tn
Wow! Scary stuff, but thanks for your story! I went to my MD GP on Friday. He said that my stress test was clean, as was my echo. He said an event monitor would be ok, but he was pretty confident that my heart is fine. He said I'm definitely anxious, and attributes much of what's happening with me to anxiety. He said if I had a blockage that they would have seen it on the stress test for sure.
Hope he's right! I'm seeking some therapy to help deal with this anxiety. Thank you all for the thoughts, and exceptional information! If I have anything to add, I'll be sure to update!
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7641974_tn?1395291841
Have your Dr if they did do a blood test yo check for enzymes of a heart attack next time. And if you feel that way go to the er not the doctors they are more likely to catch something ( my mom's cardiologist dismissed her symptoms as indigestion. She died 3 days later from a heart attack that never appeared on ekgs..)
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7641974_tn?1395291841
Yes and liek someone above said stress tests only work great if you push yourself last your breaking point. Gotta keep going because you want to see what your heart does when its at its ultimate stress!
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Avatar_m_tn
I had the exact same thing a few weeks ago-
Panic attacks , racing heart - high blood pressure which is normally perfect
I'm 5'7 & 147 lbs!! Then had heart palps , minor chest pain on right side!
Went to doc! Had EKG - heart is fine
Doc thinks stress caused the chest pains & pain attacks ! Put me on a low dose BP MED & xannix  as needed! Had a Thorough blood lipid profile test done!!
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