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HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

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Darren1 My real name is Darren, I have HCM and am a VERY active person that loves to exercise. Find out more about Darren1
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  • HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

    Before learning of my HCM, I had times where I felt lightheaded and had a couple "anxiety attacks" (complete with the racing heart and the "feeling like I am having a heart attack"). I even went to the hospital one time to be safe and they said that my heart was fine and that it appeared I had a panic attack (I WAS under a great deal of emotional stress at that time in my life ~18 years old). I'm curious if there is a correlation between panic attacks/ anxiety and HCM. I know that people with anxiety issues, are much more likely to have MVP (mitral valve prolapse) than those without... so, it seems likely that one must feed the other (which one starts the other rolling is anyones guess). I realize that the HCM is inherited, but is it possible that a side effect of HCM is predisposition to panic attacks/anxiety? Also, I'm sure people have thought they were having a panic attack (racing heart/etc) when it REALLY was a heart problem and vice-versa... The symptoms for the two are similiar (dizzyness, lightheadedness, shortness of breath, trouble concentrating, increased pulse and heart rate). Anyone else have any experience or read anything on this topic? I'm intrigued by this to the point that I may even do a post-grad thesis on the topic if I can relate it to my graduate studies I plan on starting next fall.

  • #2
    Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

    Celtic, you bet there is, I was diagnosed in my early 20s over 30 years ago.
    The year following my diagnosis was ****, I probably went to the hospital 6 times with anxiety attacks thinking I was dying, not from a heart attack but just irregular beats and palpitation and I do believe one feeds the other.
    Your heart starts to pitter patter, the anxiety comes on and that causes more pitter patter and palpatation which brings on more anxiety.
    After a year of this I said God this has to stop and I decided I had to manage the HCM and not have it manage me. If you've ever watched Dr Phil you have probably heard him mention defining moments in your life, this was one for me.
    I haven't had an anxiety attack in many many years because now I know exactly what to expect and stay calm when thing do start to go wonky.
    Fortunately even that doesn't happen much anymore because of the meds I take now.
    But yes HCM and anxiety are part and parcel with each other, but I also believe you can learn to control the anxiety and once you do that it can only make you a stonger person.
    Every great thing that has ever happened since the beginning of time has started as a single thought in someones mind.
    So if you are capable of thought then you are capable of great things
    Good luck and stay well.
    Glen

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    • #3
      Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

      Slightly related ---someone told me that Swedes (in Sweden) don't die from asthma as much as US people do because they DON'T panic.

      My sister has MVP and panic attacks and has been seriously vetted for HCM and they've decided she doesn't have it. I, of course, have HCM and have recently started having anxiety attacks about food allergies (due to a past trauma).

      However, when I was moderating at ivillage.com, almost every young woman who presented herself at the doctor's office with some standard cardiac symptoms was told she was having panic attacks. While the most common cause is usually the cause, it doesn't mean that more serious, albeit less common, problems should not be ruled out.

      food for thought.

      S

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      • #4
        Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

        I have a different view. Having spoken to nearly 2000 people with HCM - the most common misdiagnosis prior to a proper HCM diagnosis are as followed:
        Depression
        Anxiety
        Asthma
        MVP

        What is the cause of the Anxiety (in many of those with HCM) - arrhythmias, it appears that the arrhythmias trigger a response of "panic" and the adrenaline starts to flow - then once the arrythmia has stopped the system returns to normal.
        While there are many causes of anxiety - and those with HCM may well have other causes - in our expereince those who seek treatment for there HCM have far fewer "attacks" after proper diagnosis and treatment.

        Be well,
        Lisa
        Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
        YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

        Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
        lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
        Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
        Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
        Currently not obstructed
        Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

          Our body has awesome feedback loops. Stressful situations cause changes in hormones and nervous system, which in turn effects cardiac function and output by change in heart rate which changes breathing, and blood flow an so on. But in HCM it becomes hard to distinguish between the body's reaction to stress and actual cardiac problem.
          It also depends on the personality, but in my case what helped most is knowledge. Once, I understood the worst case possibility of a given symptom, I was fine.
          In the first month of pacemaker implant and experience of arrythmia, I was going to the doc. every week. Now, it is much better. Especially, exposure to specialty clinic, and having a management plan completely calms you down. So the factor of fear from unknown is taken out.
          Now if I watch my PVCs come and go. I can predict my PVC after a meal.
          Also, understanding that the things that are not in our control are not worth worrying helps. More information we have, more we know what is within our control i.e. caffiene intake, knowing when to stop, relaxing when needed, small meals, exercise according to Dr's guidelines, medication, regular echos, Device checks, keeping an eye or double checking what our Dr.'s suggest, etc.
          Apart from that, I say to arrythmia," bring it on buddy"
          Ketan Thanki

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

            So-called panic attacks and tachycardia have been the major symptoms of my HCM for almost 35 years.

            A couple of things to keep in mind: One; if you have these symptoms, any sort of stimulant should be avoided like the plague. The ones that always brought it on for me were nicotine, coffee, chocolate and over-the-counter cold/hay fever medications. Alcohol and some spicy foods didn't help, either. I don't do any of these things anymore (except chocolate. Ya gotta LIVE a little bit ....)

            Also, a doctor explained all this to me once in terms of the so-called fight-flight syndrome. A man in the stone age walks down a path and is suddenly confronted by a saber-tooth tiger. BOOM, he gets a big dump of adrenaline into his blood stream which helps him either fight the tiger or run like ****.

            When a tachycardia episode starts coming on, I get very scared; that causes an adrenaline dump, which creates MORE heart rate which creates MORE anxiety which calls for MORE adrenaline, etc. etc.

            Avoiding stimulants helped me a lot, plus beta blockers screen the effect of adrenaline. I haven't had a real rock 'n roll anxiety episode in more than 20 years. Thank you, Inderal.

            One more quick point: These aren't really "anxiety attacks" in my opinion. Anxiety attacks are psychologically based and result from unreasonable fears. We experience something different -- anxiety that results from a physiological cause. It's important to understand the difference because so may of us get prescribed prozac-type drugs for anxiety when we aren't properly diagnosed.

            Bill

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            • #7
              Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

              Chuck also suffered from "anxiety attacks." He had many health issues that I now think were somehow related to the HCM. It's a baffling disease.
              Roxann

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              • #8
                Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                My dad had been told many times in his youth that he had panic attachs... later in life he was diagnosed with HCM - and found that the problem was not in his "head" it was about 12 inches lower...and that made him feel a great deal better!

                Also - the issue of the symptoms make you "panic" - well we all fall into this to some degree - - When symptoms happen fear is the natural responce. I have learned something that has helped. Do not get me wrong this is not easy, in fact it took lots of practice...Each time I had a symptom by first responce of fear hit...I than stopped myself and would talk myself "down" I would tell myself step by step what was going on, I would imagine what my heart was doing, I would tell myself that I was going to be fine...and if I was not going to be ..well than to "worry" would do me no good and was not going to change anything. I would get angry (heck I still do) when I have symptoms - but I do not let it add to the negative feelings I keep my thoughts positive and tell myself it will not last long.
                Have I lied to myself before...sure... I have not always been "fine". I have landed in the ER a time or two... but not since I had adapted my new "system". Panic will not help - but it sure can hurt.

                If you are having problems with panic or anxiety talk to your cardiologist and make sure these episodes are captured on event monitors - for if they are truely cardiac related they will be picked up - if they are not cardiac your event recorder will not show anything.

                Be well!
                Lisa
                Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
                YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

                Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
                lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
                Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
                Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
                Currently not obstructed
                Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                  This is an interesting thread...

                  Dad was always described as being anxious and worried all the time, heart racing, trouble sleeping. Now after his death, knowing that he had undiagnosed HCM, it seems he may have just been experiencing symptoms of that. Once again, if he had only been diagnosed properly. Looking back, it makes me sad to think of what he suffered through sometimes and nobody could tell him why.

                  Thanks,

                  Jim
                  "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                    I've been taking paxil for "forever" for my anxiety and panic......
                    This is a very interesting topic for me. I just started taking new meds because monocar wasn't helping and strangely enough I feel calmer....Has everything I've felt since a child been related to HMC????? Very interesting!
                    Tammy

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                      Tammy,

                      That is EXACTLY why I started this thread.. I realize that the body is complex and that the different systems relate to one another but I hadn't until recently suspected such a strong correlation between HCM and Anxiety/Panic. Thanks for the willingness to share you experience. To quote a signature I've seen around here alot "knowledge is power..". The more we all are willing to share with each other, the better for us all.

                      -Darren

                      ps: Anxiety sucks..

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                        I do think this is one of the best threads I have seen in a while -
                        Some people may not wish to speak on the board about this very personal issue...but in one on one talks I hear this more often then many of you may think.
                        You are NOT alone...and YES Knowledge is power...but UNDERSTANDING what that knowledges can do to help your life is simply magic
                        Off to the shore for me see you all in a few days!
                        Lisa
                        Knowledge is power ... Stay informed!
                        YOU can make a difference - all you have to do is try!

                        Dx age 12 current age 46 and counting!
                        lost: 5 family members to HCM (SCD, Stroke, CHF)
                        Others diagnosed living with HCM (or gene +) include - daughter, niece, nephew, cousin, sister and many many friends!
                        Therapy - ICD (implanted 97, 01, 04 and 11, medication
                        Currently not obstructed
                        Complications - unnecessary pacemaker and stroke (unrelated to each other)

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                          Lisa, I agree, this is probably one of the best threads I've seen here.
                          It gets down to the very reason why this site is so valuable to HMCers.
                          Many HCMers who do not monitor this site would simply go thru life not relating the two and not realizing once you do know you can work on reducing the anxiety and fear and that you are not the only one experiencing it.
                          Thanks Darren.
                          Every great thing that has ever happened since the beginning of time has started as a single thought in someones mind.
                          So if you are capable of thought then you are capable of great things
                          Good luck and stay well.
                          Glen

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                            Well everyone, I learn something knew everytime I'm on this site. Learning has helped me attempt to know what my 10 year old son must feel at times. Since his diagnosis, he is startled, panicky, and anxious at times, and doesn't like to be my himself. We never knew why I just assumed it is attributed to the different medications he takes. He's a child, so clearly he reacts differently than you guys, but he gets palpitations and perhaps more frequent than he lets us know.

                            Now, I know that perhaps when he seems panicky/anxious I'll know to ask him if he's having any palpitations. Thanks for the onsight.
                            Millie Acosta
                            Bear, DE

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: HCM, Anxiety and Panic.... Is there a correlation?

                              I agree... this is a great thread!

                              Allow me to try and sort this all out in my head. Is it the general concensus that...

                              1. Some of us were misdiagnosed with anxiety disorder, when in reality the symptoms we've always experienced (rapid heartrate, etc.) were actually the result of our HCM, and we don't really have anxiety disorder at all? Or...

                              2. Does having HCM, and all the wonderful symptoms that go along with it, simply contribute to an already existing anxiety disorder, and the two feed of each other? Or...

                              3. Does HCM, by it's very nature, and with all the uncertainties that go along with it, cause anxiety disorder?

                              Jim
                              "Some days you're the dog... some days you're the hydrant."

                              Comment

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