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How To Tell The Difference Between a Heart Attack and a Panic Attack, Plus Covid-19 Updates

A much bigger issue than the pandemic, but rarely discussed health problem is anxiety and stress related disorders.  As our society has advanced to a more technologically based way of working and interacting with each other, cases of anxiety, depression, stress and other mental health issues have sky rocketed.  The scariest part is that this increase is ever so evident in our teenage and adolescent age groups.  More and more parents come into my office and discuss how their children suffer from anxiety and depression.  The most common symptom of anxiety disorder presented to me from the younger generation (as well as adults) is panic attacks.


A panic attack is usually described as a sudden intense fear or anxiety that brings on physical symptoms.  Unfortunately, for those that suffer from anxiety, a panic attack can also come out of nowhere, even in a moment of calm.  One stray thought can lead to an onslaught of symptoms.  The most common being a pounding or racing heart, sweating, chills, trembling, breathing problems, weakness or dizziness, tingly or numb hands, chest pain, stomach pain, and nausea. 


A major concern for people having  a panic attack (especially the first time) is that they feel like they are dying or having a heart attack.  Most panic attacks subside in anywhere from 5-30 minutes.  When a panic attack occurs there are steps that can help a person get through the cascade of symptoms and return to a calmer state.  Breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose. Breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth.  Some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing.  Sometimes changing your physical environment will help, like getting fresh air, splashing cold water on your face or even a light, self-given slap or tapping to the face.


The prevalent fear when having a panic attack is that you are having a heart attack. The reason for this thought is that both conditions contain chest pains, shortness of breath and feeling light headed and faint.  The major difference between the two conditions is the location of pain.  When having a heart attack, one typically may have pain that radiates into other body parts such as the shoulder, arm and jaw.  Panic attack chest pain primarily is located in the chest.  The other difference is symptoms from these conditions is that heart attack chest pain is described as severe pressure as if someone was sitting on your chest.  Panic attack chest pains are more of a sharp, stabbing chest pain and also contain a rapid or racing heartbeat.


The other big difference is that a heart attack chest pain usually is associated with physical exertion such as after climbing a flight of stairs or shoveling snow.  Another point to be concerned about is that both of these conditions can wake you up at night.  If you have zero history of panic attacks, the odds of a first ever panic attack waking you up at night from a sound sleep are virtually non-existent.  If you are woken up at night with symptoms related to the heart with no panic attack history, more than likely you are having a heart related condition and should seek medical help. 


The bottom line is that a heart attack is a medical emergency. A panic attack isn’t (thought it feels like one). If you have never had panic attacks before, the overlap in symptoms, can make it tough to tell them apart. It is better to be safe than sorry.  If you have chest pain or other heart attack symptoms — or if you’re not sure if it’s a heart attack or panic attack it is always best to have medical care.


Covid-19 Pandemic Update:  Doctor's at Duke University are leading a national study on 3 drugs that could effectively treat covid-19.  One of the drugs is ivermectin. Since 1980, ivermectin has been used to treat parasitic infections and other illnesses in humans.  It has been listed on the World Health Organization's list of essential medications and the discoverers of ivermectin have won the Nobel Peace Prize for medicine.  All of the drugs in the study were and are approved for human use, proven to be safe and effective (the other drugs were fluoxamine and an asthma inhaler medication).  Ivermectin has been found to have strong antiviral properties which has been linked to fighting off the covid-19 virus and preventing severe cases.  2500 people across the US have taken part in this study so far.


Another Covid-19 Update:  Dozens of medical professors, heads of scientific organizations, experts in immunology and members of parliament have asked United Kingdom regulators to overhaul the vaccine program for children ages 12-17.  Data is showing that for males under age 40, the risk of myocarditis was up to 14 times higher after vaccination as opposed to natural infection.  The risk was further increased after a second dose of the vaccine.  The open letter also stated that there were few advantages to exposing young people to the potential vaccine risks.  The signed letter expressed concern that if the UK was to proceed with the mass double vaccination of healthy children, they are absolutely certain that this policy would do more harm than good. Lastly, consideration must be given as to the precedent being set for triple or EVEN CONTINUOUS and REGULAR VACCINATION FOR THIS AGE GROUP (emphasis mine).


Atlantic County, NJ and Covid-19:  Covid cases have decreased from 11,195 new cases in a 14 day span to 8,938 new cases in the last two weeks. Our 7 day average cases reported is 638 cases per day.  Atlantic County has had 47 deaths in the last two weeks up from 26 since I last reported.    On 1/20/2021, there were a total of 5,428 people admitted in all of New Jersey’s hospitals for care of Covid-19 infections.  In the USA,  562 million covid-19 vaccine doses have been administered. 63.2% of the population. 70.1 million people have contracted the Covid-19 virus in the USA.  Atlantic County has had 63,401 total cases of Covid-19 and 881 total deaths attributed.


Vaccine Informed Consent Information:   Informed consent means that the person to be vaccinated has to be informed about all the risks, the risk benefit ratios, the potential dangers and what is known about side effects. For example, informed consent takes place in all drug advertising.  Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System data released 1/14/21 by the CDC showed a total of 1,053830 adverse vaccine reactions reported from all age groups following COVID vaccines, including 22,193 deaths. Serious injuries reported in this time period totaled 174,864. New Data for 5 to 11 years olds:  6,722 reported adverse reactions, 147 reported as serious, 3 deaths.  This week’s data for 12- to 17-year-olds show 27,205 total adverse events, including 1,559 rated as serious and 35 reported deaths among 12- to 17-year-olds.  Severe reactions in all age groups of anaphylaxis include 2,272 people, 3,695 reports of myocarditis and 12,543 reports of blood clotting disorders.  This week’s data for pregnancy /prenatal vaccination shows pregnant women had over 4,879 adverse events reported including 1,560 reports of miscarriage or premature birth.  VAERS is the primary government-funded system for reporting adverse vaccine reactions in the U.S. Reports submitted to VAERS require further investigation before a causal relationship can be confirmed. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS) database contains information on unverified reports of adverse events following immunization. Reports are accepted from anyone and can be submitted electronically.


Funny Chiropractic Question (Not Ha Ha Funny):  As I was doing research for my article, I came across a Google search engine question that I felt was odd, albeit interesting. “Has a chiropractor ever snapped someone’s neck?”  I was guessing they meant snapping as in a killing karate move from Steven Siegal.  And I was right.  Thankfully the answer was “There has been no documented proven case where a chiropractor ever “accidentally killed their client by snapping their neck incorrectly?” Chiropractic adjustments are statistically safer than any medical treatment, and safer than crossing the street.”  Amen!  If chiropractic care had an increased risk of injury say as from surgery or medication prescriptions, the risk would translate to malpractice insurance premiums.  I have been in chiropractic practice for 34 years and my malpractice insurance is way less than my car insurance. A fun fact is that 1st year chiropractors are basically given their malpractice insurance for free with a slow yearly increase to help them get established in the profession without saddling them with chiropractic insurance premiums. If chiropractic was not safe and insurance claims were being filed against chiropractors, it would be reflected in the insurance premium for chiropractors.

Dr J. Zimmerman, Chiropractor Dr. Zimmerman is a practicing chiropractor from Galloway, NJ with 30 years of chiropractic practice.

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