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How can anxiety attacks be controlled ?

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Internal Medicine Specialist
Practicing since : 1998
Answered : 1579 Questions
I am 30 years old 5'4 and weigh 265 lbs. I woke up at 2 AM last night with my heart pounding like my heart was going to burst out of my chest. I was really nauseated. I had tingling in my face like all the blood left my face. I felt cold like I had cold sweats. My chest felt tight. I had shortness of breath. My hands recently have been going numb and I feel like I have poor circulation in my right leg. I have no previous medical history or pre existing conditions. My life is good. Do you know what this could be? some of my friends say anxiety or panic attack but I am truly not stressed out. My family worried about my heart since heart disease & high choloesterol runs in my family.
Tue, 1 May 2012 in Anxiety and Stress
Answered by Dr. Jasvinder Singh 20 minutes later

Thanks for posting your query.

Women before menopause are less likely to have heart diseases, as a high level of estrogen provides protection against heart diseases by preventing atherosclerosis or the narrowing of arteries. From the symptoms it looks like anxiety or panic attack but since you have a family history of heart disease, it is better to rule out any cardiac cause as well.

It would be better to get an EKG, stress test and Stress echo done to rule out any cardiac cause after discussing with your physician.

Secondly these symptoms can be due to anemia, hyperthyroidism, abnormal levels of electrolytes like potassium, magnesium, and calcium and caffeine, tobacco and alcohol intake as well. So you also need to get your hemoglobin levels, thyroid function tests and electrolyte levels done.

If all the tests come out normal then anxiety and panic attacks can be thought of. Both of them require psychological counseling and anti anxiety medicines.

In addition to these medicines, here are some of the other treatment options which you can follow:
1)     When you have such symptoms, breathe slowly through the nose and talk to your family and friends.
2)     Do not take caffeine of alcohol at night just before going to bed.
3)     Indulge in yoga and meditation to calm your mind.
4)     You can also indulge in progressive muscle relaxation which is useful in anxiety by alternately tensing and relaxing the muscles.

Hope this answers your query. If you have additional questions or follow up queries then please do not hesitate in writing to us. I will be happy to answer your queries.

Wishing you good health.
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