Sometimes cardiac symptoms are more subtle and may even start slowly. Whatever the cause, chest pain is not normal and warrants medical attention right away. If you are concerned that you may be experiencing a heart attack, call 911.
Know the symptomsMost heart attacks involve discomfort in the center of the chest that lasts more than a few minutes, or that goes away and comes back. It can feel like uncomfortable pressure, squeezing, fullness or pain.
But there can be other symptoms, particularly in women.
These symptoms may include:
- Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath with or without chest discomfort.
- Other signs such as breaking out in a cold sweat, nausea or lightheadedness.
Any kind of delay in treatment could mean a worse outcome.
When in doubt, call 911Time is muscle, as the saying goes. The sooner a heart attack patient receives treatment, the better the outcome. That treatment can actually start before the patient arrives at the hospital.
Importance of calling 911
- EMS personnel can perform an EKG to confirm if the patient is having a heart attack.
- The EKG findings are sent to the Emergency Department at Doylestown Hospital.
- The cath lab team (that performs life-saving angioplasty) can be activated and ready when the patient arrives.
- EMS can begin treatment (by giving aspirin or nitroglycerin) and can manage arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), even performing defibrillation if the heart stops beating.
What if it's not a heart attack?People are sometimes reluctant to call 911 in case they're not actually having a heart attack. "We'd rather be able to rule out an emergency than have people not come to the ER and suffer the consequences," said Dr. DiEnna.
Chest pain can be a symptom of many disorders. A trip to the ER gives the medical team the opportunity to closely monitor the patient. "That gives them and us reassurance," Dr. DiEnna notes.
Tests done in the ER may reveal another cause for the chest pain, and the need for important follow-up care.
Learn more about chest pain
The Truth About Chest PainThis is a free program. Register online or call 215-345-2121.
Tuesday, March 10, 7 pm
Conference Room J, Doylestown Hospital