A panic attack is defined as a sudden episode of strong fear and panic that causes severe physical reactions in a person. Symptoms and consequences of a panic attack can be frightening, and they may also affect your heart rate. Panic attack heart rate is fast and can be particularly scary for an affected person. Scroll down to see how to manage it properly.
Symptoms of a panic attack
In most cases, panic attacks appear suddenly, out of blue, without warning. A person can have panic attacks frequently or from time to time. Symptoms of a panic attack tend to peak within minutes. In most cases, these symptoms include:
- Shortness of breath or tightness in the throat
- Sense of danger or impending doom
- Fear of loss of control or death
- Trembling and/or shaking
- Rapid heart rate
- Hot flashes
- Chest pain
- Abdominal cramps
Panic attack and heart rate
A panic attack is a form of anxiety. Anxiety disorders can induce tachycardia, i.e., a rapid heart rate. Studies show anxiety and associated disorders are common in patients with cardiovascular disease and may have a significant impact on cardiac health.
A study from the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found persons with anxiety had a 26% higher risk of developing coronary artery disease, the most common type of cardiac disease.
When someone is anxious, or in this case, has a panic attack, the body reacts in ways that put more pressure on the heart. For that reason, physical symptoms of anxiety and panic attacks can be particularly damaging for people with heart problems.
Anxiety disorders can, in severe cases, interfere with normal heart function and increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest. They can also increase blood pressure.
Fast anxiety heart rate is a major problem, but thankfully there are some things you can do to address it.
Panic attack or heart attack?
Symptoms of a panic attack and heart attack are similar, and it can be tricky to tell the difference. But, for your safety (or someone else’s), it’s vital to learn to differentiate the two. Some of the most important differences are:
- Chest pain in a panic attack is sharp or stabbing, but in a heart attack, it feels like squeezing or pressure.
- Both panic attacks and heart attacks can appear without warning, but some heart attacks can occur due to physical exertion, such as climbing the stairs.
- Panic attacks tend to last for a few minutes, but heart attacks last longer and worsen over time.
Things to remember
Panic attacks are scary as is, but it becomes even more frightening when the heart beats fast and starts pounding. To lower your heart rate in a panic attack, you may want to keep these three things in mind.
1. Take deep breaths
One of the easiest and most effective ways to manage stress, anxiety, and even panic attacks is to take deep breaths. When the panic attack comes along, try to take a deep breath slowly through your nose and then exhale through your mouth slowly as well. You may also count to five or 10 in your mind. Focus on each breath and nothing else. You will notice your panic attack is slowly going away, and your heart isn’t beating as rapidly as it did.
Deep breathing stimulates the vagus nerve, which may help reduce the cause of the “fight or flight” response.
Evidence confirms meditation is beneficial for anxiety disorders. During meditation, you focus on a single point, and all thoughts pass you by, i.e., you don’t react to them. By letting the thoughts pass without reacting, you are able to develop an effective response to anxiety, fear, and panic. Meditation helps you find calmness and inner peace.
Since meditation slows down your thoughts, it can counteract the physical symptoms of panic attacks. The newfound feeling of calmness can also normalize heart rate and also help the panic attack go away.
Meditation is not difficult to learn. Nowadays, there are videos, apps, and online classes that teach people to meditate.
3. Start moving
Although physical activity is the last thing you want to do when you have a panic attack, you may want to try it. Physically active people tend to have lower levels of anxiety than their counterparts.
After all, regular exercise can lower your resting heart rate and improve cardiovascular health. Plus, when working out, you are less likely to focus on the trigger of your panic attack. That means you can successfully manage your panic attack as well as your rapid heart rate.
You don’t have to go to the gym immediately if you’re not in a situation to do so. Any kind of physical activity is good at that specific moment. You can simply stand up and start walking and moving.
Panic attacks have scary symptoms, and one of them is a rapid heart rate. Simple relaxation techniques such as meditation and deep breathing can help slow down heart rate but also stop panic attacks.