It’s very easy to misdiagnose a heart condition called supraventricular tachycardia, or SVT. The condition may look and feel just like a panic attack. However, it’s triggered by a physical problem in the heart, not a worried or overactive mind.
The trouble is that SVT is often misdiagnosed as anxiety because it happens so sporadically. To identify it, a person would have to wear a heart monitor for about a month to hopefully pick up an episode.
SVT’s symptoms essentially overlap with those of a panic attack, and it can clearly lead to worrying. You might be wondering what’s wrong with you when you’re feeling your heart race out of nowhere, even when you’re relaxed and mentally calm.
It happens when faulty electrical signals in the heart override the heart’s normal pacemaker to trigger fast beats. During an SVT flare-up, heartbeats can soar to 250 beats per minute. To put that in perspective, a normal heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute.
Other symptoms include sweating, choking sensation, and chest pain.
If you don’t suffer from anxiety or panic attacks, but your doctor has suggested these feelings are likely related to these conditions, you may want to have another discussion.
There are newer technologies that are less intrusive to monitor heartbeats. Wearing one for a month or so may help determine if your racing heart is causing your anxiety and not the other way around.
In the meantime, continue to practice heart-healthy behaviors and do your best to relieve stress.