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Cardiophobia/Heart Fixation

M

Mookychew

New member
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Seattle
Hey all, first time posting in a place like this but I just needed a place to talk with some helpful people.

So, I guess what I have as I've of course googled it too much is a cardiophobe, driven by anxiety and panic attacks.

I'm 35 years old, a little overweight, I have high BP and high cholesterol - but I'm on meds for the BP and its at a healthy level, and my cholesterol is at a decent level except for Triglycerides which seems to be similar through my family but I exercise 3-4 times a week and have moved to a vegetarian diet. No history of heart attack or heart disease in my family either. I'm actually, sort of the healthiest I've ever been - I quit smoking 3 years ago, avoid drugs and alcohol except for a few times a year. I had an echocardiogram that came out perfectly fine. I have an undiagnosible/never-heard-of skeletal muscular issue, which leads to severe muscle cramping, mostly in my legs but also means I get pangs of muscle pains all over my body for no reason at all some times. I've been in an out of hospitals my whole life trying to figure it out, but no one seems to be able to figure it out, but I've learned to live with it and I've managed to hone in on types of exercise that work fine for me and I've always tried to stay at least moderately active even though I have a desk job.

I've also always suffered from anxiety with occasional panic attacks. Especially on planes, I have to take Xanax to fly, not because of the actual flying but claustrophobia of being stuck in a seat - its only particularly bad on long flights where I can't get the aisle seat. This is all funny because in general, I'm actually a very relaxed person, and have been very successful and handling my panic and anxiety with breathing exercises and the like, and honestly if you told all of this that I'm tell you to the people around me, they would be surprised.

Lately, for the past few years (tied of course to me actually getting a cholesterol test and finding out it and my BP was high), I have become fixated on my heart and having a heart attack. 3 days ago I left work to go to an urgent care, worried I was having a heart attack and again it was just panic - heart racing, lightheaded(this happened last year as well). At night I fixate on my heartbeat, it feels like its racing (which it usually isn't), and becomes so loud and noticeable that I can't fall asleep because I'm just feeling my pulse in my neck and I can hear it with my ear placed on my pillow.

I've got appts set up with my cardiologist and my GP, these usually help so I'm happy they will happen soon, but I also wanted to talk here with maybe anyone who deals with similar issues and how they handle it. I'm so tired of it distracting me from life, sometimes I feel like I'm viewing life from behind a plate glass window because I'm focusing on my heartbeat and any light pangs of pain in my chest (usually I'm sure that are from exercise and lifting weights and my weird muscle thing).

So, if you've suffered from something similar, or have any advice at all or just want to talk about it, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I'm very grateful for a resource like this, have a great day!
 
Acorn

Acorn

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 11, 2020
Messages
721
Location
England
Hello and welcome to the forum :welcome:

I’m glad you find seeing your gp and cardiologist reassuring. It must be very scary to worry about having a heart attack. Do you get any psychiatric support? Sometimes I find I have panic attacks that make me feel like I’m dying so I imagine the panic probably makes the symptoms worse.
 
M

Mookychew

New member
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Seattle
Thanks Acorn, I always joke that whichever deity made the symptoms of a panic attack the same as the symptoms of a heart attack was a real asshole. Luckily I have a great doctor and she really laid out what the signs of heart attack are, and how in men they are VERY obvious, and how I'm very low risk. The trick is really just trying to stop the full blown panic before it takes hold and thats not something I do successfully 100% of the time.
 
L

Laudanum

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
619
Location
Surrey
I'm worried about exercising vigorously at the moment after a similar 'heart attack that wasnt' scare last May. I'm still too nervous to walk the route where it happened, but maybe I should face my fear?

I'm also concerned about my BP and think that every feeling in my chest is the start of a heart attack, before I usually think it through and decide it's anxiety or something else.

I've had all the tests and even carry a lead 1 ECG (Kardia mobile) with me after a cardiologist recommended it.

I'm finding that the fear lessens with time, as I have had lots of scares but none of them turned out to be anything serious, so I guess my subconscious might be accepting it now.

Glad you have had tests and everything's ok so far.
 
M

Mookychew

New member
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Seattle
Hey there! Sounds like we're in similar boats. It sounds like you're doing exactly what you should.

Here's what helps me whenever I get into a spiral:
  1. Check for the signs, really think about it, are you: very sweaty, dizzy, trouble breathing, do you have excruciating chest pains (and with chest pains, do they go away when you change positions or press on them? if so, most likely not a heart attack)
  2. Is there any history of heart related problems in your family? If so, it's by no means a guarantee that you will, but if you do, just set up a yearly appt with your cardiologist. Chances are if those tests are coming up clean, you're doing fine
  3. Try a breathing exercise when the panic starts to rise, I do square breathing which is: in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, out for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4 - repeat.
  4. Find something else to focus on on, this may sound funny but I clean my house, makes me feel good and gets something done, also I bake bread. Anything that draws your attention.
  5. Don't ever feel bad about asking for help, if you need to go to a doctor, or if you're very worried and can't get out of it - do what you need to, I've had plenty of occasions where I'll just pop into a walk in clinic to have them confirm that I'm just panicking.
  6. And this one may be the most important one, and usually is where I can finally find myself after dealing with everything - if you're doing everything above, and your tests come out good, and your making an active effort to be healthy and keep an eye on it, chances are you're going to be just fine, and if by some reason I do get a heart attack, there was nothing that could be done and such is life, but the worst thing you can do is let the fear run your life. It's also good to remember that plenty of people have heart attacks and go on to live healthy happy lives, and run marathons, and eat cheesewiz(on occasions), and all that jazz. In the words of my father, who most likely stole it from someone else - "Don't borrow sorrow" as in, don't worry for the sake of worrying when you really don't have a reason to.
I hope this is helpful at all, this is what I run through to center myself when my anxiety starts to get the best of me.
 
L

Laudanum

Well-known member
Joined
May 30, 2019
Messages
619
Location
Surrey
Thanks for the tips. You sound like you've really looked into it and have a healthy, rational attitude towards your anxiety.

I agree with what you say. When I had my incident last year the paramedics took me to A&E (ER) because my T wave was a bit peaked, but my troponins were at 3 (an enzyme that damaged cardiac muscle releases. Normal range is 1-49, the lower the better). I had a crushing sensation in my chest and felt breathless for no apparent reason, but no extreme pain or pain in extremities, so I suspect it was a spontaneous panic attack. I had three more panic attacks within a month, but not since (touch wood). The residual sensation has been tingly and numb legs most days for the last 7 months, but doctors have ruled out everything except anxiety or muscular stress.

Here's my back story if you care to read it: So I went to A&E again on wednesday

A colleague had a heart attack, as did a neighbour (both a few years ago) and they are both fine now.

Thanks for posting, it was really helpful.
 
D

dc86uk

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
66
Location
Cardiff
Hey all, first time posting in a place like this but I just needed a place to talk with some helpful people.

So, I guess what I have as I've of course googled it too much is a cardiophobe, driven by anxiety and panic attacks.

I'm 35 years old, a little overweight, I have high BP and high cholesterol - but I'm on meds for the BP and its at a healthy level, and my cholesterol is at a decent level except for Triglycerides which seems to be similar through my family but I exercise 3-4 times a week and have moved to a vegetarian diet. No history of heart attack or heart disease in my family either. I'm actually, sort of the healthiest I've ever been - I quit smoking 3 years ago, avoid drugs and alcohol except for a few times a year. I had an echocardiogram that came out perfectly fine. I have an undiagnosible/never-heard-of skeletal muscular issue, which leads to severe muscle cramping, mostly in my legs but also means I get pangs of muscle pains all over my body for no reason at all some times. I've been in an out of hospitals my whole life trying to figure it out, but no one seems to be able to figure it out, but I've learned to live with it and I've managed to hone in on types of exercise that work fine for me and I've always tried to stay at least moderately active even though I have a desk job.

I've also always suffered from anxiety with occasional panic attacks. Especially on planes, I have to take Xanax to fly, not because of the actual flying but claustrophobia of being stuck in a seat - its only particularly bad on long flights where I can't get the aisle seat. This is all funny because in general, I'm actually a very relaxed person, and have been very successful and handling my panic and anxiety with breathing exercises and the like, and honestly if you told all of this that I'm tell you to the people around me, they would be surprised.

Lately, for the past few years (tied of course to me actually getting a cholesterol test and finding out it and my BP was high), I have become fixated on my heart and having a heart attack. 3 days ago I left work to go to an urgent care, worried I was having a heart attack and again it was just panic - heart racing, lightheaded(this happened last year as well). At night I fixate on my heartbeat, it feels like its racing (which it usually isn't), and becomes so loud and noticeable that I can't fall asleep because I'm just feeling my pulse in my neck and I can hear it with my ear placed on my pillow.

I've got appts set up with my cardiologist and my GP, these usually help so I'm happy they will happen soon, but I also wanted to talk here with maybe anyone who deals with similar issues and how they handle it. I'm so tired of it distracting me from life, sometimes I feel like I'm viewing life from behind a plate glass window because I'm focusing on my heartbeat and any light pangs of pain in my chest (usually I'm sure that are from exercise and lifting weights and my weird muscle thing).

So, if you've suffered from something similar, or have any advice at all or just want to talk about it, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I'm very grateful for a resource like this, have a great day!
Hi Mookychew,

Welcome to the board. I am currently suffering with this big time at the moment.

Today for example, been sat in work relaxed all day, was a great day. Then boom, a minor pain in my chest over my heart area, comes and goes like the wind but it sends my body and mental state wild. Straight into fight or flight mode. It is making me freeze with fear.

I am conscious enough to know that really, I have been to the gym 4 times this week, don't drink alcohol/smoke and I would say in pretty good nick, I have done all I can to reduce the probability, but it still put's the chills right up me when I get this flash pain.

I will try and use your coping mechs above, hopefully can find some comfort using them!

Dave
 
R

RoxRacingMind

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2020
Messages
12
Location
Miami
Hello,
I’m going through something very similar. It’s been happening for a little over a month now. I’ve gone to the ER three times, everything has been normal. I’ve seen a cardiologist who ran some tests and advices everything looking normal. Yet I was still having symptoms. Chest pain, left arm pain, jaw pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, you name it.
I started seeing a psychologist and now a psychiatrist to help me manage my symptoms. Both think I’m suffering from panic attacks.Yet, still know all this, I’m still terrified I’m having a heart attack or that something is wrong with my heart that’s going to kill me. The fear is real and I’m struggling to control my thoughts once they get going.
 
D

dc86uk

Well-known member
Joined
Dec 2, 2019
Messages
66
Location
Cardiff
Hello,
I’m going through something very similar. It’s been happening for a little over a month now. I’ve gone to the ER three times, everything has been normal. I’ve seen a cardiologist who ran some tests and advices everything looking normal. Yet I was still having symptoms. Chest pain, left arm pain, jaw pain, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, you name it.
I started seeing a psychologist and now a psychiatrist to help me manage my symptoms. Both think I’m suffering from panic attacks.Yet, still know all this, I’m still terrified I’m having a heart attack or that something is wrong with my heart that’s going to kill me. The fear is real and I’m struggling to control my thoughts once they get going.
Hi RoxRacingMind

So sorry to hear about your predicament. You’ve done the main thing which is consult the relevant health professionals, and they have given you the good news. But I know exactly what you mean, I had ecg, bloods etc to diagnose my issue only for everything to come back clear!

I can only speak from my own experience, but things didn’t truly start to swing upwards for me until I started to challenge the thoughts and feelings. I’d be sat minding my own business when out of nowhere I would get the same as you above. Chest pains (still get them), racing heart, sweating etc etc. But one day I just said go on then, do it, do your worst. And nothing happened. And I did it again and again until you slowly start realising it has no power unless you give it.

I hope this is of some help. Always free for a chat though.

Dave
 
R

RoxRacingMind

Member
Joined
Feb 4, 2020
Messages
12
Location
Miami
R
Hi RoxRacingMind

So sorry to hear about your predicament. You’ve done the main thing which is consult the relevant health professionals, and they have given you the good news. But I know exactly what you mean, I had ecg, bloods etc to diagnose my issue only for everything to come back clear!

I can only speak from my own experience, but things didn’t truly start to swing upwards for me until I started to challenge the thoughts and feelings. I’d be sat minding my own business when out of nowhere I would get the same as you above. Chest pains (still get them), racing heart, sweating etc etc. But one day I just said go on then, do it, do your worst. And nothing happened. And I did it again and again until you slowly start realising it has no power unless you give it.

I hope this is of some help. Always free for a chat though.

Dave
You’re right. Mind over matter is what I keep telling myself. But once the symptoms start is when I have to be the strongest, which I’m still learning to do. I’m going to have to start challenging my thoughts and my symptoms.
thank you!
 
R

Rach05

Well-known member
Joined
Jan 26, 2020
Messages
119
Location
Northern ireland
Hey all, first time posting in a place like this but I just needed a place to talk with some helpful people.

So, I guess what I have as I've of course googled it too much is a cardiophobe, driven by anxiety and panic attacks.

I'm 35 years old, a little overweight, I have high BP and high cholesterol - but I'm on meds for the BP and its at a healthy level, and my cholesterol is at a decent level except for Triglycerides which seems to be similar through my family but I exercise 3-4 times a week and have moved to a vegetarian diet. No history of heart attack or heart disease in my family either. I'm actually, sort of the healthiest I've ever been - I quit smoking 3 years ago, avoid drugs and alcohol except for a few times a year. I had an echocardiogram that came out perfectly fine. I have an undiagnosible/never-heard-of skeletal muscular issue, which leads to severe muscle cramping, mostly in my legs but also means I get pangs of muscle pains all over my body for no reason at all some times. I've been in an out of hospitals my whole life trying to figure it out, but no one seems to be able to figure it out, but I've learned to live with it and I've managed to hone in on types of exercise that work fine for me and I've always tried to stay at least moderately active even though I have a desk job.

I've also always suffered from anxiety with occasional panic attacks. Especially on planes, I have to take Xanax to fly, not because of the actual flying but claustrophobia of being stuck in a seat - its only particularly bad on long flights where I can't get the aisle seat. This is all funny because in general, I'm actually a very relaxed person, and have been very successful and handling my panic and anxiety with breathing exercises and the like, and honestly if you told all of this that I'm tell you to the people around me, they would be surprised.

Lately, for the past few years (tied of course to me actually getting a cholesterol test and finding out it and my BP was high), I have become fixated on my heart and having a heart attack. 3 days ago I left work to go to an urgent care, worried I was having a heart attack and again it was just panic - heart racing, lightheaded(this happened last year as well). At night I fixate on my heartbeat, it feels like its racing (which it usually isn't), and becomes so loud and noticeable that I can't fall asleep because I'm just feeling my pulse in my neck and I can hear it with my ear placed on my pillow.

I've got appts set up with my cardiologist and my GP, these usually help so I'm happy they will happen soon, but I also wanted to talk here with maybe anyone who deals with similar issues and how they handle it. I'm so tired of it distracting me from life, sometimes I feel like I'm viewing life from behind a plate glass window because I'm focusing on my heartbeat and any light pangs of pain in my chest (usually I'm sure that are from exercise and lifting weights and my weird muscle thing).

So, if you've suffered from something similar, or have any advice at all or just want to talk about it, it would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks for taking the time to read, I'm very grateful for a resource like this, have a great day!

Hello, sorry to hear you are going through this, it is not nice at all. Very scary. No one will understand fully unless they have had something like this. I have had the same sort of fear for bout 3 years now. I have health anxiety. Which has me worrying about my health quite a bit. The only thing that helps me is the antidepressant. First happened about 3 years ago, i took a pain in my chest. Thought i was dying, having a heart attack. Im 35 healthy, dont smoke or drink and fit active aswell. That night i had a panic attack and ended up at hospital had test heart trace and bloods and chest xray. Have had several tests at different times but there was no getting through to me. I have costocondritis inflammation of the chest wall. Now im not as bad when i take the pains i tell myself its only my muscle pain or anxiety and i can reasure myself and it does then settle.

Hope u will find a way to get through it. I find mindfulness helps me too.
 
M

Mookychew

New member
Joined
Jan 22, 2020
Messages
4
Location
Seattle
Hey @Rach05 @RoxRacingMind @dc86uk @Laudanum @Acorn !

Just popping back in here to say thank you to all you guys, I haven't checked here in a while as I went through my usual "up" period where my anxiety dissipates a little and I hadn't seen a few of these messages. Its really helpful to know there are others out here feeling the same as me. Forgive my language but, what bullshit right! Nothing like actually being healthy, but your mind assuming youre in trouble all the time.

I'm back in one of my down times now, who knows what spurs these things, probably triggers I'm not even aware of. Lord knows the COVID implications certainly add a whole new layer of anxiety to these literally everything. Had a huge one the other day when I was about to put our dinghy in the water for an little lake picnic, my heart just started RACING. Something to do with all of the people trying to get in, the fear of COVID infection, general anxiety, and a CURSED history of nautical misadventures. My wife has a heart rate monitor that I'll put on sometimes to make sure I'm not peaking up into the 160-190 danger area, which I never am, but I rest around 90 and the tragically comedic part of it all is that checking my heart rate - causes me to me to panic. So I'll be around 87-91 and then watching the beat makes it shoot up to like 107-113, which is so incredibly stupid and frustrating. Doubly frustrating because my wife has the resting heart rate of a stealth assassin, seriously it's incredibly unfair.

Getting proactive with my high cholesterol right now, trying to go through the hoops for my insurance company to cover the injection medication I need because I just have bad genetics when it comes to the old LDL. So I have my first CT scan next week, which Im happy about because its the last heart test I haven't gotten, even though my EKG and chest X-ray were all completely clear. But also of course, worried "What if they find something??" - but even that I guess is good to know so I can get to fixing it. In great shape, been jogging 3-4 times a week, eating right, same ol same ol, but these anxiety waves come in... well waves.

What always boggles my mind about some of these panic attacks is the sheer randomness, I just had one a few minutes ago that got so far away from me I had to take a xanax to recenter again, I really try to take that as infrequently as possible - but It does do what it says its supposed to when things start to red line.

Have any of ya'll found any respite with medication? Be great to know if you've found something that works. I also finally pulled the trigger and found myself a therapist, the frequency of the attacks and the control they are having over my life just got past the threshold of what I was willing to handle alone. My first session is next Friday and I'm quite excited to talk to someone about these things.

One of the truly aggravating parts about panic attacks is that from the outside, no one can tell anything is wrong. My wife recently admitted that she doesn't really know when or how to react, because from her perspective I look perfectly normal. I guess what I'm trying to say is that its great to have you guys to talk to, and this thread really has helped me to come back to when I need to calm down and find solace in misery's company.

Hope you all are great, or at least maintaining in these crazy times, feel free to respond with you're current status and if you need encouragement or help with anything.
All the best,
~Matt
 
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