An anxiety attack can make you feel like the world is closing in around you.
It can have physical symptoms like a faster heart rate, sweating, breathlessness, light-headedness, and chest pain.
Of course, heart troubles can also elicit these responses. In some cases, the only difference between a heart issue and a panic attack or anxiety can be feelings of impending doom or a total loss of control.
One heart condition, in particular, can easily be confused with panic attacks and is often misdiagnosed as one, too. Supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT, has the classic symptoms of a panic attack, like a racing heart, breathlessness, dizziness, or light-headedness.
SVT occurs when faulty electrical signals in the heart override its natural pacemaker to trigger a series of fast heartbeats. During an SVT episode, heart rates can jump to as high as 250 beats per minute; a normal heart rate is between 60 and 100 beats per minute.
When this happens, the heart’s lower pumping chambers (ventricles) don’t have time to fill completely between beats. The brain and body may get less blood than normal, which can lead to light-headedness and dizziness.
So, how can you tell if you’re experiencing an anxiety attack or SVT? The only difference may be that a bout of SVT won’t leave you feeling like you’ve totally lost control and that doom is on the way.
The problem is that most doctors will diagnose SVT as anxiety or panic attacks because they are so similar. But if you don’t feel anxiety, you may want to ask about the potential of SVT.
Unfortunately, the most common way to accurately diagnose the condition would involve wearing a portable EKG machine for up to a month. You would press a button when your heart rate goes up to activate the recording.
So sometimes, your anxiety could be caused by an underlying heart condition. Talk to your doctor if you believe your symptoms are related to your heart instead of your head.