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Avatar universal

How often is heart disease misdiagnosed as anxiety?

I have been having these attacks where I feel like my heart stops beating and I cant catch my breath. They started out just feeling like a flutter but now I have full blown attacks. I feel like my heart skips beats and it is hard to breathe. Then I get this tingling sensation all through my body and then the chills and shakes set in. I get gas real bad and sick to my stomach. Sometimes I will even vomit. I feel pressure in my chest and throat and get dizzy with blurred vision. I even feel like my throat and tounge swell up sometimes. These episodes normally happen as I am trying to go to sleep or right after I wake up. I have been to the ER and my doctor about it. They have ran pfts, ekgs, bloodwork, xrays, and checked the oxygen in my blood. Everything has come back normal. I am 25 and do not have a history of heart disease in the family and I am pretty healthy except about 50 lbs over weight. My doctor keeps telling me that it is anxiety and panic attacks but I am not convinced. I just dont see how I can be having anxiety attacks just out of the blue for no reason. I am not the type of person that gets anxious about much. I am just wondering how often these attacks are mistaken for an actual heart problem. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
8 Responses
Avatar universal
I am beginning to think more and more doctors are using anxiety/stress/depression as an excuse when they can't find the real cause of our symptoms. When I went to a follow up appt with my doctor he was out unexpectedly and I met with the N.P. who told me her opinion of my symptoms after being with me only 5 minutes....she said I am just overly stressed and depressed.!!!!! I realize after this experience that we have to be assertive with our doctors when we know something isn't right with our bodies. I have been experiencing extreme fatigue, heart rate flucuations and was diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse several months ago, yet the cardiologist wasn't even concerned and said that the diagnosis wasn't the reason for my extreme fatigue...or faintness, dizziness, nausea....I plan on going for a second opinion and further testing
Avatar universal
hi, I am kathy, I am new to this whole heart issue stuff. I was just recently hospitalized for a bout of chest pain with dizziness, sob, and pain into my arms and neck. I was in the hosp for 3 days. I went thru the whole gammont of tests. for the most part they were normal. the cardiologist came to the conclusion that I am having spasms from the epithelials the smaller vessels, and arrhthmia. they started me on norvasc, asa a day, and zocor for a high ldl count. the meds are starting to kick in, most of my troubles are with exertion. the reason I was attracted to your post, is because when i went to my pmd, he kept saying he thinks this is anxiety and there is nothing wrong with my heart. well, that is not the impression I got from the cardiologist. he felt that I had some risk factors, and started me on meds. I told the pmd this, and he still insisted that when i get an attack, i take a xanax pill to see if it helps. he also seems to think there is a gerd problem as well, and started me on protonix.

I am going to try to be my own advocate, because I dont think anxiety or gerd gets worse when you climb a hill, or when you climb stairs. I think doctors try to peg women with all of this anxiety and stomach problem and depression, and wont admit that we may have an actual problem worth paying attention to. I have a feeling that a lot of women go thru this. I am glad that I dont have a severe heart problem requiring surgery, but none the less, there is something not right, and I know my body, as you do. we have to keep listening to our bodies, and keep going in with our symptoms until someone listens and takes us seriously.
1008941 tn?1263307862
I was misdiagnosed. Had mild symptoms for years and kept tight with my doc. Had full stress tests 2 years in a row a cardiologist passed me with clean bill both times. Then, a year and a half later - quintuple bypass (clogged 70, 70, 90%).

If I had known, I would have opted for a heart catheter test early on - it would have clearly shown what was really going on.
Avatar universal
I have suffered with panic attacks, and they DO COME OUT OF THE BLUE...no warning.  You may not feel anxious or stressed, but all your symptoms fit with panic attacks.  Most of your symptoms do not even accompany a heart problem.  You should lose the extra 50 lbs or you can bet you will be seeing heart problems!  This much extra weight is putting a serious strain on your heart, and it can't function under this strain for long.  Get medication for your panic attacks, start eating healthy, don't diet, make a life long healthy way to eat, and get moving.  Even if you just walk, get exercise.  Start now so that we don't see you on here in the future with serious heart problems.
Avatar universal
I have to totally agree with mammo; the symptoms you are describing are anxiety related. The problem is that the second you feel a skipped beat (which EVERYONE on the planet has) you immediately think about a heart problem which increases the problems that you are having because of the adrenal glands pushing catacholamines into the blood stream. Things snowball at that point. Most structural heart disease is easy to spot through EKGs, Stress Tests, Echoes. What can be hard to diagnose at times are the different arrhythmia problems because they can come and go. Women tend to be misdiagnosed much more often than men because doctors do not take them seriously (unless there is serious heart disease) and blame everything as being in their head. And as many of you probably know, a woman is more likely to die as a result of heart disease than a man; in part because of that reason. Women have to fight a lot harder, than a man, to get their doctor to take them seriously.
Avatar universal
As a completely fit and healthy 20 year old, I suddenly started suffering from a rapid heart rate at completely random times (like just sitting in a chair). Along with this came stomach problems, dizziness and fatigue. At the time I was deployed and, due to being a woman, they diagnosed me with anxiety disorder which I thought was completely idiotic. Over seven months later a thyroid problem was discovered. It is a good idea to explore physical problems before mental ones.
How was your thyroid disorder finally pin pointed please I’m in the same boat as you were and don’t know what to ask they test
Blood work, easy to ask for, just request a test for thyroid function theyll know what to order.
Avatar universal
It is a known fact that women are not taken seriously when it comes to a doctor evaluating them for heart disease; men, they tend to go gungho on. One of the main reasons for the lack of concern is because before menopause sets in, the hormones in a woman's body protects her from having any significant heart disease; it's there to protect her through her childbearing years. After menopause, a women has a higher chance of dying from heart disease then a man. Doctor's tend to blow off a woman's concerns about her heart. sad, but true!  
Avatar universal
doctors have misdiagnosed and given wrong advice several times.
i like the doctor on:

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