Feels like my heart is about to explode (a comprehensive guide)

In this guide, we will explain what it means when you ‘feel like my heart is about to explode.’

Some conditions may make the heart of a person feel like it’s pounding out of their chest, or cause such extreme pain that a person can believe that their heart will burst.

Don’t worry, your heart can’t burst, literally. Multiple things, however, will make you feel like your heart is going to burst. Some conditions may also lead to a rupture of the wall of your heart, but this is very rare.

When they experience an odd sensation around their heart, most people automatically leap to thoughts of a heart attack or sudden cardiac arrest. Although it could be an early symptom of all of these to feel like your heart is going to burst, you’ll probably also find other signs.

Feels like my heart is about to explode

Here are some of the possible explanations for you to feel like my heart is about to explode:

  • Atrial fibrillation
  • Panic attack
  • Heart attack
  • Stroke
  • Sick sinus syndrome
  • Anxiety

Atrial fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is a condition that causes your heartbeat to be erratic and often speeds up your heart rate, also known as AFib. Chances are you’ve had at least some of the symptoms if you’re affected, even if you haven’t known what they point to. To learn more about AFib and gain an understanding of some primary warning signs and symptoms, continue reading.

Some common symptoms that can be encountered by people with atrial fibrillation include:

  • Heart palpitations that create a speeding feeling, “flipping,” quivering heartbeat
  • Chest pain/discomfort
  • Short of breath sensation. If you need a CPAP mask to improve your breathing during anxiety attacks, try these Best CPAP Mask for Anxiety.
  • Fatigue and fatigue, even when doing basic, non-exhausting tasks
  • Feeling faint and exhausted after an atrial fibrillation episode,
  • It’s hard to do something really physical, like exercising,
  • Dizziness and a light headed feeling
  • Confusion
  • Sweating
  • Feeling nervous and panicky

Really, what do these symptoms sound like? Any of the statements that people with atrial fibrillation frequently make are:

  • “It feels like my heart is going to burst out of my chest”
  • “I feel wiped out entirely”
  • “My heart is like a butterfly fluttering around”
  • “I feel like a heart attack is happening to me”
  • “My heart feels like in my chest it is flopping around”
  • “My heart started to pound like I was just running a marathon”

Symptoms may not be there all the time, and sometimes people notice that every so often – mostly out of the blue – they go into atrial fibrillation. Others have signs that are chronic that never seem to go anywhere.

Panic attack

A number of disturbing physical symptoms can be triggered by panic attacks, including the sensation that the heart will burst. If you have never had a panic attack before, it can be particularly scary.

Some signs of a panic attack that are typical include:

  • A sharp chest pain
  • The tingling of your palms
  • Breath shortages
  • Heart speeding
  • Sweating 
  • Tremble

Bear in mind that people may be affected differently by panic attacks. Furthermore, panic attack symptoms often feel very close to those of a severe heart condition, which further leads to feelings of fear and anxiety.

It might be safer to go to the emergency room or an emergency care facility if you have these symptoms and haven’t had a panic attack before.

Heart attack

Life-threatening emergencies are heart attack and stroke, and those with signs should call 911 immediately. The majority of heart attacks include pain that lasts longer than a few minutes in the middle of the chest, or that goes away and comes back. It may feel like strain, squeezing, fullness, or pain that is unpleasant.

Heart attack signs may include:

  • Pain in the chest
  • Breath shortages
  • A cold sweat breaks out, nausea or lightheadedness,
  • Vomiting
  • Sweating 
  • Pain or discomfort in the back, spine, jaw or stomach of one or both arms
  • A drooping face, a weak or numb arm or leg
  • Failure to clearly speak
  • Sudden serious pain in the head
  • Sudden difficulty seeing one or both eyes

Difference between a panic attack and a heart attack

It can be difficult to know the difference between a panic attack and a heart attack, particularly if a person has never experienced any of the symptoms before.

Several factors can make it easier to differentiate between the two situations, including:

Pain characteristics

While both a panic attack and a heart attack are synonymous with chest pain, the symptoms of the pain also vary. Chest pain is usually intense or stabbing during a panic attack and localized to the middle of the chest.

Chest pain from a heart attack can mimic a crushing feeling of pressure. In the center of the chest, chest pain that occurs due to a heart attack can also start, but may then radiate to the arm, jaw, or shoulder blades from the chest.


The onset of symptoms may also assist a person to know whether they have a heart attack or panic attack.

While both conditions may evolve suddenly and without warning, some variations can still exist.

Often, because of physical effort, such as ascending the stairs, heart attacks occur.


The period of symptoms can also help to differentiate between a panic attack and a heart attack.

Most panic attacks are over in 20 to 30 minutes, but they can differ.

Symptoms tend to last for long after a heart attack and get worse over time. Chest pain, for example, can be mild at the onset of a heart attack, but after several minutes, it becomes intense.


When the blood supply to the brain is interrupted, a stroke occurs, depriving the brain tissue of oxygen.

Hemorrhagic and ischemic are the two stroke forms. When blood vessels in the brain burst, a hemorrhagic stroke occurs, causing blood to gather in the surrounding brain tissue. An ischemic stroke happens when the flow of blood to the brain is interrupted by a blood clot.

Many of the signs resemble those of atrial fibrillation in both forms of stroke. Weakness, tiredness, and dizziness have similar symptoms. Symptoms that usually suggest a stroke instead of atrial fibrillation, however, include:

  • Drooping Facial
  • Trouble speaking
  • Loss of eyesight
  • A severe headache
  • Convulsions

A stroke is a severe medical condition that must be urgently treated. Immediately call 911 if you suspect you or someone you know is having a stroke.

Sick sinus syndrome

Sick sinus syndrome (SSS) refers to a group of conditions that develop when the heart’s sinus node stops functioning properly. The sinus node is the heart section that controls the rhythm of the heart. The heart does not beat effectively when the sinus node is not working properly. SSS affects older people more frequently.

An irregular heartbeat and a slow pulse are the symptoms that resemble those of atrial fibrillation. Such similar signs include fainting, lightheadedness, or dizziness. However, unlike individuals with atrial fibrillation, those with SSS can experience loss of memory and disturbed sleep.

Should you have any of these signs, call your doctor. To prevent complications, SSS must be treated.


For no apparent cause, generalized anxiety disorder (or GAD) is characterized by extreme, exaggerated anxiety and concern about daily life events. People with symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder appear to predict catastrophe at all times and can not stop worrying about health, cash, family, job, or school.

Now and then, everybody experiences pressure — and there may be valid explanations why. In individuals with GAD, however, the concern is always unrealistic or out of proportion to the situation. A perpetual state of terror, fear, and dread becomes everyday life. Eventually, anxiety can also control the thought of a person so much that at work or school, socially, and in their relationships, they find it difficult to do routine things. But there are therapies to alleviate anxiety, so your life isn’t running.

In any given year, approximately 2 percent of U.S. adults have a generalized anxiety disorder. In women, it’s more widely mentioned than in men.

The way a person thinks is affected by GAD and it can lead to physical symptoms. GAD symptoms can include:

  • Excessive, constant concern and tension
  • An unrealistic vision of issues
  • Restlessness or an “edgy” sense of being
  • Feeling of doom
  • Crankiness
  • Tension in the muscles
  • Quicker heart rate
  • Breathing quicker
  • Headache
  • Sweating
  • Concentrating difficulty
  • Nausea
  • A persistent need to go to the bathroom
  • Feeling poor or tired
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Tremble
  • Being shocked quickly
  • Swallowing trouble

In case you continue to feel anxious, reach out to a mental health professional to have it looked into. 

In this guide, we will explain what it means when you ‘feel like my heart is about to explode.’

FAQs: Feels like my heart is about to explode

What is the sinking feeling in your heart?

An intense feeling of anxiety that is sometimes characterized as a sense of impending doom and a sinking sensation. More severe complications, such as arrhythmia or heart rhythm irregularity, may also result from a heart attack. Typically, these are atrial arrhythmias originating from the atrium.

Why did I feel a pop in my heart?

Many physical signs may be triggered by stress and anxiety. A chronic stress or anxiety disorder may cause chest pain. Symptoms such as a popping sound or pain may add to this tension. In certain cases, the signs of a heart attack may be ambiguous for a person who has a panic attack.

Why do I feel a strain on my heart?

A chest muscle that is stretched or pulled can cause a sharp pain in your chest. When the muscle is strained or broken, a muscle strain or pull occurs. Up to 49% of chest pain results from what is known as intercostal muscle strain. Your chest comprises three layers of intercostal muscles.

What does a mini heart attack feel like?

It may feel like a strain, rubbing, or discomfort that is painful. Discomfort, such as one or both arms, the back, the neck, the chin, or the stomach, in other upper-body areas. Shortage of breath before or after pain in the chest. Breaking out, or feeling nauseated or lightheaded in a cold sweat.

Why do I have a sinking feeling in my stomach?

One of the most recognizable symptoms of depression is that sinking feeling in your stomach. However, it’s easy to write it off as gas or menstrual pain when your abdomen begins to cramp. A sign of depression may be pain that worsens, particularly when stress occurs.

Why does my heart feel weird when I try to sleep?

Although these can be alarming, it is important to remember that they are generally common and are not necessarily a sign of something more sinister. Owing to the way your body bends and pressure builds up internally, you could be more vulnerable to heart palpitations at night if you sleep on your side.