We have all seen someone suffer from a heart attack, even if it is just in the movies. Their faces are distorted with pain and discomfort. It is also commonly known that a heart attack may lead to sudden death. So it is clear to understand why your rapidly beating heart will cause you to fear the worst. Fortunately, a rapid heartbeat or tachycardia is not always a sign of a pending heart attack but may often be associated with anxiety. Nevertheless, it is still frightening and knowing that you are not about to die doesn’t necessarily make it easier to deal with.
When you are in the grip of an anxiety attack your heart rate accelerates due to adrenaline that excites your heart muscles to contract stronger and faster. It is then that you may feel your heart pounding in your throat and fear that it may stop all at once. Anxiety does not only cause your heart to beat faster; it leads to hyperventilation too adding to your agony and possibly worsening your anxiety.
If your experience chest pain with or without a rapid heart beat it is best to have it checked out by a medical professional. Usually during a heart attack your heart beat becomes irregular and not necessarily faster like in an anxiety attack, but any chest discomfort should be reported to your doctor to make sure.
Most of the symptoms of a heart attack appear similar to that of an anxiety attack. In both instances you may experience chest pain. With a threatening heart attack the pain tends to come gradually and reaches a peak within a few minutes and it rarely goes away completely. The chest pain associated with an anxiety attack is a sharp stabbing pain that is not constantly noticeable but comes and goes. If you are in doubt at all visit a doctor. The other symptoms such as shortness of breath tend to be very similar. Another signs that may indicate an anxiety attack rather than a heart attack is your age. Heart attacks are very rare in individuals under the age of 45, but if you have a family history it is still worth while to visit your doctor even if you are younger.
The best way to treat any symptom associated with anxiety is to treat the anxiety first. Cognitive behavioral therapy or CBT are nowadays considered to be the best treatment for anxiety, but many other therapies are also available such as exposure therapy and acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT). Anxiety is very closely related to stress so learning how to manage your stress levels effectively can also help you to further overcome anxiety. Relaxation exercises such as breathing exercises, yoga and meditation are also helpful.
Your lifestyle may also cause your heart to beat faster. Smoking and drinking too much alcohol or caffeine can also lead to an accelerated heartbeat and additionally make you more anxious. People who are over fatigued are also at an increased risk of developing a rapid heartbeat. Making small changes to how you live can help slow your heart beat down to normal.
There are not many scientifically proven herbs that may assist you in treating anxiety. Some studies done on Kava showed some evidence that it may improve anxiety but the U.S Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently issued a warning that the use of Kava may be linked to severe liver injury that may be life threatening. If you suffer or have suffered from any liver condition in the past it is therefore best to rather avoid the use of Kava. Some small studies have showed that chamomile may help relieve anxiety over the short term, so it may not be a bad idea to get yourself some chamomile tea especially if you struggle to sleep at night.
Being overtired and overstressed all of this might seem like too much to handle, but you should know that there are many people just like you in the grip of anxiety. Many others have overcome their anxiety with a little time and effort and so can you. You can lead a normal life again free from anxiety.
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“Tachycardia.” American Heart Association. 2012. Heart.org (October 10, 2012) http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/Arrhythmia/AboutArrhythmia/Tachycardia_UCM_302018_Article.jsp
“Therapy.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. [No date] ADAA.org. (October 10, 2012). http://www.adaa.org/finding-help/treatment/therapy
“Complimentary and Alternative Treatment.” Anxiety and Depression Association of America. [No date] ADAA.org. (October 10, 2012). http://www.adaa.org/finding-help/treatment/complementary-alternative-treatment
“Kava linked to Liver damage”. National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2012. NCCAM.NIH.gov. (October 10, 2012) http://nccam.nih.gov/news/alerts/kava
“Long term Chamomile Therapy for Anxiety”. Clinical Trials. 2010. Clinicaltrials.gov. (October 10, 2012) http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT01072344?term=Chamomile&spons=NCCAM&rank=1