Heart is the organ that pumps the blood throughout the body. Heart works continuously from birth to death. Heart also needs oxygen and nutrition supply via blood. The heart is supplied by coronary arteries. When the supply of the blood is stopped or reduced to a critical level, the heart muscle dies. Heart muscle cannot regenerate if the muscle cells are dead. The death of the cardiac muscle due to ischemia (lack of blood supply) is named as heart attack. Myocardial infarction is the medical term used for heart attack. Heart attack causes severe pain. This is an utmost intensity, unbearable pain. Pain and ischemia activates the sympathetic system of the body. This sympathetic system will increase the heart rate, sweating, increase the respiratory rate (breathing rate) and palpitations.
Heart attack is a serious condition, which may end up in sudden death. Hypertension, smoking, fatty food, and lack of exercise are the main risk factors for developing heart attack. Heart attack is caused due to the coronary arteries blocked by cholesterol deposition; the atheroma plague suddenly breaks and occludes the coronary vessels, or blood may clot with the deposition of cholesterol and obstruct the blood supply. Depending on the degree of occlusion severe pain to sudden death may result.
Anxiety is a feeling we all have experienced several times. Sudden fearful event may provoke anxiety. Different people have different level of anxiety. Some are harmless situations. Whenever the brain feels the fear, it will activate the sympathetic system. The anxiety attack will mimic heart attack symptoms as the sympathetic system is activated; they are difficulty in breathing, increased heart rate, sweating and sudden chest pain. However, anxiety attack can be controlled with training and anxieolytic drugs.
What is the difference between Heart Attack and Anxiety Attack?
• Heart attack is a life threatening condition but anxiety attack is not.
• In heart attack, the blood supply to the heart is affected, and heart muscles die but, in anxiety attack, the blood supply will be increased.
• The main reason for anxiety is a fearful feeling.
• Heart attack needs treatment with intensive care, but not for anxiety attack.