Fortunately --- or unfortunately, depending on how you look at it --- your boyfriend does SEEM to be suffering from panic (or "anxiety") attacks. Many who experience a panic attack
, mostly for the first time, fear they are having a heart attack. Here are some common symptoms:
# Shortness of breath
# Chest pain
# Palpitations and/or racing heart
# Heart palpitations
# Muscle pains or tingling
Panic attacks are the most extreme manifestation of panic disorder, an anxiety response resulting from an over-production and under-use of adrenalin, the bodily chemicals that cause them. When the anxiety reaction has no use for adrenalin, this powerful hormone can create a group of physical reactions which can peak with the formation of a panic attack.
However, just to take opposite view: my father had his first heart attack at age 30 and died at 36, so I am sensitive to the possibilities of early heart attack
. That MAY be your boyfriend's problem, particularly if he smoked, so you may want to call up a cardiologist and get an appointment. There are a couple of genes for early heart attacks and you could check around in your boyfriend's family (uncles, cousins) to see if anyone else has experienced a heart attack in their 20's.
More likely to be panic disorder, which you can read about in abundance on the web.
Hope this helps!