Anxiety is a common cause of chest pain, particularly in women. However, this can be a hot button topic because for many years heart disease in women was overlooked, and women were often told that the chest pain was “all in their heads.”
We now know better. But this doesn’t erase the fact that, sometimes, women do suffer from chest pain that is a manifestation of anxiety or panic attacks. In fact, panic attacks (also known as panic disorder) mimic not only coronary chest pain, but other heart attack symptoms as well, often inducing a pounding heartbeat, dizziness, and a feeling of doom. These symptoms can be so convincing that many patients end up in the emergency room.
If you are a woman with chest pain, make sure your doctor takes your complaint seriously, especially if you have major risk factors for coronary heart disease, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes, or if you smoke.
If your doctor performs a cardiac evaluation and rules out coronary heart disease, consider seeing some type of counselor or therapist who can teach you how to deal with stress. Prayer also is often a powerful stress reducer.
These days, if you arrive at an emergency room complaining of chest pain, an overnight stay most likely will be required. On one hand, this is good, because many heart attacks that would have been missed can now be detected. On the other hand, no one wants the expense and inconvenience of an overnight stay and cardiac evaluation if they are suffering chest pain from another cause.
Still, if you are at risk for a heart attack, and experience symptoms that could be a heart attack, call 911 and ask to be taken to the hospital.
If you do not have major risk factors for a heart attack, you may be experiencing one of the other common causes of chest pain such as acid reflux, inflammation of the chest membrane, and even arthritis. The best thing to do then is call your doctor and make an appointment to be seen as soon as possible.