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February 6, 2014

This post discusses whether or not panic attacks are linked to heart attacks. I believe the relationship between panic attacks and heart attacks is a by product of the relationship between stress and heart attacks. If you notice in the article the researchers expressed being baffled by the low rates of people with panic attacks, actually experiencing heart attacks when the numbers where compared to the general population.



I agree that panic attacks are related to heart disease but I do not believe there to be a direct correlation. Especially given that there exists numerous research studies linking stress to heart attacks and the number one cause of panic attacks is stress.



Given that higher experiences of stress leads to prolonged production of the steroid hormone cortisol, it is also important to note that some of the symptoms of prolonged cortisol in the body is high blood pressure, low immunity and blood sugar imbalances to name a few. The identified symptoms of prolonged stress lends significant explanation to how stress, if left untreated can lead to heart attacks.



So if you are experiencing panic attacks it does not mean that you are experiencing a heart attacks, even if it feels like it. It stands to reason that it is not the panic attack that will kill, but prolonged stress likely will. Another aspect of this article on panic attacks and heart attacks I would like to point out is the hyper focus on the biological aspects of panic attacks.



Panic attacks are psychological phenomenons, caused by pent up distress, and triggered by old traumatic experiences. This is why as a psychotherapist, I have experienced a high rate of success getting people to bring their experiences with panic to stop, without any need for medication. Just about the only group of people with whom this feat is particularly challenging are people in recovery from traumatic brain injury, and this is because the brain is still in the process of slowly requiring itself.



The good news is that people can learn to bring their experiences with panic attacks to a stop and also practice cognitive strategies to prevent future attacks.



Ugo is a psychotherapist and life coach


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