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The Truth About Chest Pain

Health Articles |
Categories: Emergency Heart
chest pain

Heart attacks don't always announce themselves like they do in the movies, with someone clutching their chest, bowled over in pain.

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 symptoms

Most 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.

Find a Cardiologist

Preventing a Heart Attack

Chest pain or discomfort may be caused by plaque buildup narrowing or blocking the coronary arteries. Recently, a prominent presidential candidate received care for a blocked artery. "It is important to recognize new cardiac symptoms, as he did, and seek help immediately," says Doylestown Health interventional cardiologist Steve Guidera, MD. "Ignoring new cardiac symptoms or delaying care doesn’t help. Listen to your body – we can help!"

When a blockage is diagnosed, a tiny, wire tube called a stent can be placed by an interventional cardiologist to prop open an artery and help restore blood flow. Stents are delivered via a guided catheter through a blood vessel to the blockage.

Stents can stop damage to heart muscle and prevent serious cardiovascular issues, like heart attack and heart failure. The sooner a patient is treated through cardiac catheterization (balloon angioplasty), the less damage to the heart.

Doylestown Health's 56-minute average "first medical contact to balloon inflation time" is well ahead of the national 90-minute standard, and calling 9-1-1 expedites the process.

When in doubt, call 911

Time 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.

Accredited Chest Pain Center

Doylestown Health's Woodall Chest Pain Center first received accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), just after the new Emergency Department opened in 2010. The accreditation signifies the hospital's efficiency and effectiveness in treating heart attack and other cardiac issues that present with chest pain.

Nationally-Recognized Heart and Vascular Care

Doylestown Health's Woodall Center for Heart and Vascular Care has been nationally recognized for high-quality care and patient safety. Doylestown Hospital was named one of the nation's 50 Top Cardiovascular Hospitals by IBM Watson HealthTM and rated as "high performing" in aortic value surgery, heart bypass surgery and heart failure by U.S. News & World Report.

About the Doylestown Health Cardiovascular and Critical Care Pavilion

Patient care, quality and comfort are the driving forces behind the design of Doylestown Health's Cardiovascular and Critical Care Pavilion, a top priority of a comprehensive $75 million campaign, ONE VISION: The Campaign for Doylestown Health. Future home of the new Center for Heart and Vascular Care and the Clark Center for Critical Care Medicine, this new Pavilion will incorporate features and amenities that seamlessly integrate the highest levels of clinical care and patient privacy, with special focus on wellness and comfort. We invite you to join us as we create the life-changing healthcare of tomorrow. Philanthropic support will fund transformational renovation and expansion across the Doylestown Hospital and Pine Run campuses and will help chart the course for the next generation of patients, providers, and technology.

For more information, visit the Doylestown Health Foundation website or call 215.345.2009.

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