For those who suffer from panic attacks, there is an increased reason to be aware of their heart health. According to recent research by the University of Adelaide in South Australia, people who suffer from panic disorder are about twice as likely to suffer from heart disease in their later lives than those who do not.

Researchers reviewed 12 separate studies of more than 1 million subjects and approximately 58,000 coronary heart disease cases. They discovered that those who suffer from panic disorder are 47 percent more likely to suffer from heart disease and are 36 percent more likely to have a heart attack.

Making Sense of the Data

Despite the clear correlation between these two conditions, it is still not clear if one is causing the other, or if they both appear in the same people for some other reason. After all, heart palpitations and shortness of breath are symptoms of both heart issues and panic attacks. This means that there is a possibility that less severe heart conditions could have been misdiagnosed as panic attacks early on, and not readdressed as they worsened.

According to Professor Gary Wittert, from the University of Adelaide’s School of Medicine, the two conditions are clearly associated, but the actual mechanisms of how they relate are still uncertain. He went on to say, “From this review it is clear that more research is needed to examine the impact of panic attacks on a sufferer’s heart.”

Taking the Appropriate Precautions

With this new understanding, it is more important than ever for those who suffer from panic disorders to be careful about attributing their chest pain to their panic attacks too quickly. As with many health concerns, catching a heart condition in the early stages could mean the difference between life and death.

If you are concerned about your heart health, or if your primary care physician recommends you see an electrophysiologist, contact Dr. Dilip Mathew today. Since 2004, Dr. Mathew has been serving the Tampa Bay and Sarasota area, specializing in all aspects of managing cardiac arrhythmias. Contact his office today to learn more.