Doctors Lounge - Cardiology Answers

Back to Cardiology Answers List

Forum Name: Cardiology Symptoms

Question: Anxiety/depression and cardiovascular conditions

"The information provided on is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between a patient/site visitor and his/her physician."

 serenety - Fri Mar 18, 2005 8:24 pm

Hello. I am a 19 year-old female and am currently undergoing a lot of stress because of life circumstances, which have possibly triggered the following:

I am not officially diagnosed (by a psychiatrist) with, but will probably be diagnosed with general anxiety disorder as well as panic disorder. I had an episode of depression last year and was on Wellbutrin XL 150 for over six months. It worked quite well and I came off it about 3 or 4 months ago thinking the depression would not return because of a good change in circumstances.

Currently, I have had an EKG once which turned out to be normal but according to my physician, my heart rate was bordering fast which indicated stress, and ever since the anxiety hasn't left me and I have had several minor and a couple of major panic attacks until two nights ago. I am very concerned about any heart and/or respiratory problems even though I am aware of the anxiety. Furthermore, I have learned that over time too much stress and anxiety can lead to heart problems. I have long periods of chest discomfort and pressure with occasional pain and often palpitations, but these are also accompanied by light headedness, numbness, hot flushes/chills, shortness of breath, and other symptoms common for anxiety.

However, recently I was also given results of a blood test done for my thyroid levels and the nurse practitioner told me they seemed to be low (she was a bit vague on the whole), and that I should go back in a month for a reassessment of my thyroid. What concerns me is that my mother has had (I believe) abnormal thyroid and surgery. I am anxious to know if it's okay to disregard these chest pains/pressures and if they have nothing to do with thyroid condition.

For further information, I do not smoke, drink, or do any form of drugs. I am not overweight either. The only history of heart disease I know of is my grandfather (mother's side) who had a heart attack in his 40s, but according to my mother he smoked a lot and also developed lung cancer.

So now, I am curious to know if anxiety will contribute to major physical problems and/or if I should consider more thorough testing?

Thank you for your time. Any input would be greatly appreciated.
 Dr. Yasser Mokhtar - Fri Apr 22, 2005 8:52 pm

User avatar Dear Serenety,

Chest pain, discomfort, shortness of breath and palpitations are part of anxiety symptomatology.

It is sometimes difficult to differentiate if the person does not have a history of anxiety/panic attacks.

In your case, i think it is a very high possibility that this is just anxiety, however, there is a condition known as mitral valve prolapse which can cause chest discomfort and palpitations. It is diagnosed by having an echocardiogram (ultrasound of the heart) and needs to be watched if it is there.

i recommend that you have an echocardiogram to rule out this condition.

As to your thyroid problem, the most commonly used thyroid test and it is the measurement of a hormone called tsh in the blood, if the level of this hormone is high, this means that the thyroid gland is actually underactive, and if the level is low, then the thyroid is overactive. So, what she said can go both ways because she had to specify what was low. If the thyroid gland was overactive, this can explain your symptoms of tachycardia, anxiety and palpitations.

i guess you already had the repeat test or at least about to. Keep us posted.

Thank you very much for using our website and i hope that this information helped.

Yasser Mokhtar, M.D.

| Check a doctor's response to similar questions

Are you a Doctor, Pharmacist, PA or a Nurse?

Join the Doctors Lounge online medical community

  • Editorial activities: Publish, peer review, edit online articles.

  • Ask a Doctor Teams: Respond to patient questions and discuss challenging presentations with other members.

Doctors Lounge Membership Application

Tools & Services: Follow DoctorsLounge on Twitter Follow us on Twitter | RSS News | Newsletter | Contact us