Chest pain, palpitations, shortness of breath and sweating can occur with both conditions, but only a heart attack can prove fatal, experts say.
A heart attack occurs when a blocked artery restricts blood flow to the heart muscle.
Symptoms do not go away until a person receives emergency medical attention. In a panic attack, the symptoms may last for 20 minutes and then disappear. However, only a specialist can confirm whether this is a heart attack or a panic attack, so take these symptoms seriously.
Men over 45 and women over 55 and above are prone to a higher risk of heart attack than younger men and women. Other high-risk groups include people with high blood cholesterol and triglycerides, high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, metabolic syndrome, or a family history of heart attack.
"If a young person without risk factors experiences chest pain, the probability of a heart attack is small," says Dr. Rajesh Dave, an interventional cardiologist at the Holy Spirit Medical Center in the US state of Pennsylvania. "But chest pain in a 50-year-old man, a long-term smoker and with a 20-year history of diabetes, is more likely to signal a heart attack and he needs urgent medical attention," adds the specialist.
Patients with a heart attack often have some symptoms a few days or a week before the attack, and heart attacks most often occur during physical activity. While panic attacks usually occur when a person is resting and can be triggered by anxiety, such as receiving bad news.