Chest pains are frequently a part of anxiety attacks. The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM-IV) lists chest pains as a symptom of panic disorder and is common in other types of anxiety disorders as well.
Chest pains, as a part of anxiety, are not normally considered to be dangerous. But chest pains can also signal a heart attack and require immediate medical care. For someone experiencing a sudden panic attack, complete with chest pains, it may be difficult to know the difference and to know whether or not to seek medical care.
What is Chest Pain?
Chest pain or discomfort occurs between the neck and the upper abdomen and is located in the front of the body. It can be caused by both serious and benign reasons. There are a number of organs and tissues in the chest area that can cause pain or discomfort in addition to the heart. The lungs and esophagus as well as the ribs, various muscles and tendons which can become inflamed due to illness or injury and cause pain.
Chest pains are often seen as either ‘typical” or “atypical”. Typical chest pains are “a painful sensation in the breast accompanied by a strangling sensation, anxiety and occasional radiation of pain to the left arm.”  All other chest pains are classified as atypical. Typical chest pains are considered to be closely associated with cardiac problems. Atypical chest pains, however, are not always specific. Sometimes people have atypical chest pains from severe cardiac problems. Other times, atypical pains can significant a less serious problem.
Heart attacks can begin suddenly and leave little doubt that someone is having a heart attack and requires immediate medical attention. Some heart attacks, however, begin much slower, with pressure and pain building up, leaving someone wondering if they are having a heart attack or if something else may be happening.
According to the American Heart Association , the following are warning signs of a heart attack and all signal a reason to seek immediate medical attention: