Pop Quiz: Heart attack or Panic Attack: Which Is It?

Pop Quiz: Heart attack or Panic Attack: Which Is It?

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the U.S., so it’s no wonder that a heart attack—a result of coronary artery disease, which is one of the forms of heart disease—is a concern. While the most common symptoms of a heart attack are often recognizable, the symptoms of another common health condition—a panic attack—can easily be confused for those of a heart attack. Take our pop quiz and learn how to tell the difference between a heart attack and a panic attack.

1.) True or false? Though a heart attack and a panic attack can feel very similar, they are very different medical conditions.

2.)Which of the following symptoms can be experienced with both a heart attack and a panic attack?

  1. Chest pain or pressure, or pounding or racing heart
  2. Shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and sweating
  3. Nausea or vomiting
  4. A sense of impending doom — a strong feeling that something awful is about to happen
  5. All of above

3.) True or false? Both heart attacks and panic attacks have some of the same risk factors.

4.)Which of the following are risk factors shared by those who suffer heart attacks and those who suffer panic attacks? (Choose all that apply)

  1. Stress
  2. A poor diet
  3. Anxiety
  4. All of the above

5.) Which of the following are differences between a heart attack and a panic attack?

  1. The cause of symptoms 
  2. The duration (or how long symptoms last)
  3. Who is more likely to have one or the other
  4. All of the above

6.) Which of the following describes the difference between a heart attack and a panic attack concerning how the cause of the symptoms, or what actually happens in your body to trigger an attack, are different?

  1. During a heart attack there isn’t enough blood flowing to your heart and this strains the heart muscle, which can lead to permanent damage; during a panic attack, sufferers are having an exaggerated response of intense fear to things in the environment that would not normally cause that kind of reaction.
  2. During a heart attack, chest pains and other symptoms are caused by physical symptoms, and during a panic attack, symptoms are caused by symptoms created in the mind.
  3. The symptoms of a heart attack are real, and the symptoms of a panic attack are made up.
  4. None of the above

7.) Which of the following is true concerning the difference in the duration of a heart attack versus a panic attack?

  1. For a heart attack, symptoms last a long time. For a panic attack, symptoms start and end quickly.
  2. For a heart attack, symptoms start and end quickly. For a panic attack, symptoms last a long time.
  3. For a heart attack, the symptoms last minutes to a couple of hours and are unlikely to happen day after day. For a panic attack, symptoms usually last about 10 minutes, but occur several times a day or for many days in a row. 
  4. None of the above

8.) Which of the following statements are true about who is most likely to suffer a heart attack or panic attack? (Choose all that apply)

  1. Men and older people are more likely to have heart attacks.
  2. Women and younger people are more likely to have panic attacks. 
  3. A person who has a mental health condition, like anxiety, depression, or post-traumatic stress disorder, is more likely to have panic attacks than someone who does not.
  4. All of the above

9.) True or false? Medical tests and procedures like ECGs, bloodwork, and echocardiograms can detect the reduced blood flow of a heart attack and identify damage to the heart while those same tests and procedures would be normal if the symptoms were caused by a panic attack.

10.) True or false? In someone with heart disease or risk factors for heart disease, changes in blood flow caused by a panic attack, like an increased heart rate and blood pressure, could lead to a heart attack.

compiled by ERIKA ALDRICH / Resources: Information provided by the Cleveland Clinic and Good Rx Health

ANSWERS

  1. True
  2. E. All of the above
  3. True
  4. A. and C. Stress and anxiety
  5. D. All of the above
  6. A. A heart attack is the result of restricted blood flow to the heart while a panic attack is an exaggerated fear response.
  7. C. Heart attack symptoms do not come and go, and they rarely occur day after day.
  8. D. All of the above
  9. True
  10. True

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