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Heart Anxiety

Sara88
Community Member

Hi,

I am looking for support with my heart/cardiac anxiety issues. I am 34 and 

this started a few years back, i started having sharp chest pains and heart palpitations. 

It started one night when i was falling asleep and this weird feeling woke me up and i was terrified and panicked that my heart felt weird, shrugged it off for a while and tried to ignore it and go back to sleep but this kept coming and going for weeks/months.. This led to feelings of numbness and tingling in my arms etc and chest pains and then anxiety wondering if it was my heart. I couldn't work out if it was my anxiety triggering the symptoms or the symptoms triggering my anxiety. i ended up going to hospital. they did bloods/ecg and i had an MRI and a heart monitor for 24hrs and went to a cardiac doctor.

They all basically said that it was nothing to do with my heart and everything came back normal. The cardiac doctor laughed and said there is no way it could be my heart at my age and to stop worrying about it (i also have no risk factors at all, no family history, normal weight, no diabetes, no smoking, barely drink) After this reassurance i convinced myself it was just anxiety and gradually it became non existant for a few years.

 

Well this last 6 months i've had it again out of nowhere... it comes and goes.. it started waking me at night when id start to fall asleep this weird feeling.. and id panic it was my heart again. Then the little chest pains would start up and the anxiety would follow and id start googling and everything says heart attack symptoms. So then every little symptom id start to worry again.

I have been back to the doctor a month ago who listened to my heart and did an ecg and came back normal again (but these ecgs are always done when im not experiening the pain or palpitations at that time)

So i dont know if its the anxiety creeping up again and just creating these symptoms. I try to keep calm and tell myself to stop worrying because if i start worrying the symptoms get worse. Does anyone have similar?

 

I do things to take my mind off it and it does work sometimes but other times it doesn't and i feel something is wrong and im going to die eventually from heart attack or something. 

 

Has anyone had these symptoms and it actually be heart related or is it just the anxiety creating the physical symptoms?

 

Any words of advice would be appreciated πŸ™‚

15 Replies 15

Beeee
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hello Sara88,

 

Thank you for sharing and I can understand how regular chest pains might be scary experience. I'm sorry to hear that your doctor laughed at you, that is definitely not professional behaviour, however if everything has been thoroughly checked, hopefully there is nothing wrong physically. 

 

I also occasionally experience chest pains as a symptom of anxiety. Something that has helped me is understanding why we get these symptoms. A psychologist once explained that it's not 'all in your head'. When we experience an anxiety-causing event, our body goes into fight or flight mode. During this our central nervous system is activated and we can experience a number of symptoms, such as heart palpitations. While there's nothing physically wrong, we might still experience real physical symptoms. 

 

The best way to reduce/prevent chest pain is to reduce anxiety. Distraction is something that helps me as well. Deep breathing can also help in the moment. What has helped the most is speaking with a therapist and working at the root of why I have anxiety. 

 

You're not alone in how you feel and I hope this has helped,

Beeee

Sara88
Community Member

Thankyou so much. It helps to know I'm not alone 

Rainydays_
Community Member

Hey Sara88

I know how you're feeling. I've woken up numerous times because of a sharp pain in the chest or arm. The first time I had a panic attack (6 years ago) I drove straight to the emergency department convinced I was having a heart attack. The doctor checked me, EKG ,blood tests etc and basically eye rolled at me saying it's just a panic attack.. then they happened more frequently and the physical symptoms came with them .  After a few more EKGs to put my mind at rest, my doctor diagnosed me with anxiety . I tried natural remedies to help my anxiety and panic attacks.didnt work for long so started on medication,  doing much better than I was then.  I think I get health related anxiety as i have a 10yr old son and worry about if something happened to me, no one could care for and love him like i could .  So basically anytime I get a sore arm, chest pain etc I jump straight into panic mode and make a situation out of nothing . I've learnt to talk myself down from having a full blown panic attack now just by thinking how many times I've overreacted and thought I was going to die and turned out nothing actually happened to me! It's not easy to deal with at first,it really sucks, but it can be manageable.  CBT is something that is highly recommended and deep breathing exercises help in the moment. I hope knowing that you're not alone and many people experience the same as you , gives you some feeling of hope. 

Bob_22
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Sara88,

 

Thank you for sharing your experience and hope you are well. You are certainly not alone in feeling how you do in regards to your heart/chest. Many people including me experience all sorts of physical symptoms as a result of anxiety. As bee mentioned this isn't just something that's made up but a real physical sensation. I used to frequently experience heart palpitations, increased HR and chest tightness as a result of my anxiety. And like you, I would worry that something is wrong and ended up getting an ECG, echo and holter monitor. My psychiatrist suggested trying to tackle my anxiety which I thought would have been the last cause of the problem. But lo and behold, once I got my anxiety under control through medication and psychology sessions, the physical symptoms such as chest tightness and physical pains started to diminish and then completely go away. I had experienced what is known as health anxiety where the thoughts of my physical health would cause anxiety and feed back unto itself and amplify the symptom.  If you'd like to learn more, I found some interesting resources regarding health anxiety here: https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Health-Anxiety

 

Hope that helps 

 

Bob

Monswa
Community Member

Heeeeey there.

Hell yes.... I had the same problem start up about a week ago. RANDOM START UP OF HEART PALPITATIONS.  Went to my mental health case manager who said go to the ER. But the ER just brushed it off as anxiety immediately. Was bit slack in my opinion. Saw GP today who seems to think it not a worry. Had a ct of my heart recently too done was normal. Lucky I have meds to help with these. The Dr wouldn't give me anything and happily I already found out I had a drug useful for this. Chat to me any time mate. Nice to have friends who completely understand what I'm suffering with. Also got bad breathing half the time from anxiety. 

Sara88
Community Member

Thankyou for all of your replies. I really appreciate your responses and taking the time to write.

I'm glad i can be of some help to know others are not alone.

 

I am much the same Rainydays_ i too have 2 small children who I worry about if something was to happen to me. This does make the anxiety much worse I have found. 

 

I finally got a copy of my report from the cardiologist back in 2018 and it says i do get palpitations (ectopics) and my heart sometimes has an early beat in the upper and lower chambers occasionally (but this can be quite normal and isn't dangerous) . I think this is what causes me so much anxiety. If i'm calm and relaxed and they happen then i can feel them and then the anxiety starts and causes everything to be much worse and the physical symptoms start from there.

I just had a doc appt a couple days ago and she did bloods and quick ecg which came back all fine again. As its interrupting my sleep she also wants me to do another 24hr holter moniter to make sure its the same thing that's happening and nothing more (as my last one being in 2018 was quite some time ago). She does think that because I'm stressing about it i'm making it much worse and has told me to try and stay calm if I feel them and they shouldn't last long (easier said than done). She also said they are only dangerous if the heart goes into an irregular rhythm and if it did this for more than 10 mins, not just having a few here and there.

 

I do believe that the palpitations and early beats is what's waking me up at night. Its also not every night, its very random and i can sometimes go weeks without it happening and then it can happen a lot in one week. The anxiety about it is probably what's causing the rest of the symptoms which is what i need to try and control.

 

I have found a good bed time routine and drinking a sleep tea and getting an early night and enough water throughout the day can help the symptoms. My doctor also gave me valium for the nights i feel extra anxious before going to bed but i only take them when i feel like i really need to as they arent a long term thing.

 

Hoping we all can work through this anxiety and feel better soon πŸ™‚

Bob_22
Community Champion
Community Champion

Hi Sara88,

 

Thank you for updating us. It's good to hear that through your doctor as well as some of your tests you were able to gain some clarity/perspective on the situation. My doctor also informed me something similar, that everyone gets palpitations from time to time and the majority are harmless but its good that you had that chat. 

 

Great to hear that you found some strategies to help with the anxiety. Please update us if you find any others that other users also might find helpful. I generally find going for a walk or a drive to be the most helpful in terms of clearing my mind as it helps distract me from my symptoms. Best of luck with the holter monitor and again, glad you made your way here to the forums. πŸ’™

 

Bob

Sara88
Community Member

Thankyou Bob_22, I will update on any new strategies I find that help. 

 

I do think going for a walk is great or just getting out and being with a friend or family etc.

For times when I cant leave the house (such as the muddle of the night when it happens or wakes me up) I try to deep breathe, get up out of bed and walk around the house for a few minutes and have a glass of water to reset before trying to go back to sleep. The more I give into the anxiety the more it takes a hold, so my idea is to not let my mind take over too much and keep as calm as i can in that moment till it passes.

 

I have just been looking at the resource link you posted above also and its really helpful.

I think I might download the entire book and give it a read tonight as it seems really good.

I will repost the link below for anyone else in this forum that would like to read:

 

https://www.cci.health.wa.gov.au/Resources/Looking-After-Yourself/Health-Anxiety

 

Thankyou πŸ™‚

Bob_22
Community Champion
Community Champion

No worries Sara88!

 

Thanks so much for the update. I'm glad to hear some of the information has been helpful. If you have any trouble with the modules it's also good to work with your mental health professional. For example, things such as safety behaviours are difficult to break on our own. You're not alone. πŸ˜ŠπŸ’™

 

Bob