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Don’t Ignore Chest Pain

Tonia Fehr is the manager of WakeMed Cary Hospital’s new 12-bed Chest Pain Unit.

Dick Cheney has a long history with heart disease, suffering his first heart attack at age 37.  Yesterday he was admitted to the hospital again with complaints of chest pain.

Chest pain should always be taken seriously.  It can be a primary symptom of a STEMI (better known as a heart attack) and speedy treatment can save valuable heart muscle, preventing death and ensuring a good quality of life after the event.  It also matters where you are treated.  Certain hospitals have undergone stringent surveys by the Society of Chest Pain Centers, certifying that they are following protocols proven to offer the best possible outcome for patients presenting with chest pain. Raleigh Campus, Cary Hospital, North Healthplex and Apex Healthplex are all Certified Chest Pain Centers, and Raleigh Campus and Cary Hospital (as of today) both have dedicated 12-bed chest pain units.

Patients presenting with chest pain to any WakeMed Emergency Department are cared for by specially trained nurses who are passionate about cardiac care. Using standardized protocols, each patient on arrival will immediately have a 12 lead EKG, receive the appropriate medications, cardiac monitoring and have serial cardiac enzymes checked. These steps help physicians rule out a STEMI ( the most dangerous of heart attacks).

If a STEMI is ruled in, patients are immediately whisked to an interventional cath lab to open the affected coronary artery thereby restoring circulation to the heart muscle. If a STEMI is ruled out, patients are admitted to the Chest Pain Unit for continuous cardiac monitoring with additional diagnostic tests to determine the cause of the chest pain.

Regardless of the cause, chest pain should never be ignored.

Update, February 23 2:30 pm: This just in, Dick Cheney did have a mild heart attack.  Visit MSNBC for more information.


One thought to “Don’t Ignore Chest Pain”

  1. I agree with this we should not ignore chest pain. That is why I decided to write on this blog because my son experienced chest pain and I rushed him to the emergency room where I was told by a staffer that “if it was serious, the nurse would have called him by now”. In the meantime, after several hours in the waiting room of the emergency department, my son moaned in pain and laid on the floor. Eventually the nurse came to take him to the back and we waited while the doctor was on the computer (at least 1 hour) but the nurse came and the billing department was quickly on the scene to take our insurance information. I remember telling the clerk that if only we can get service as quickly, we would be okay. I also told her that if we did not see a doctor today she should not file the insurance, she politely nodded and walked away. Finally, we saw the doctor who spent all of two to three minutes with my son of which he shock four people’s hands (all in my family). We came in at 4 am and left around 10 am Sunday morning. My son was diagnosed with hepatitis. On the way out, we were stopped by billing again they wanted to discuss a bill my son had from a previous visit. The woman was polite but she talked incessively, I watched as my son leaned up against the wall and I offered him a chair. Ten minutes later we were on our way. Had I not taking him into the emergency room, he may have been in some serious trouble. We later found out that prescribed medication for an abscess may be the culprit. My son is being monitored by his primary care physician to make sure there is no further complications.

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