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Mercy's Chest Pain Center 

Emergency chest pain

Faster Times Save Lives in Mercy's ER

  • Only hospital in Iowa to provide all cardiac patients with door-to-balloon times less than the national standard during the last 2½ years – and 25 minutes faster.
  • One of only 7% of U.S. hospitals to achieve stroke door-to-treatment time in less than 60 minutes.

Thousands of Americans who show up at hospital emergency rooms daily complain of chest pain or pressure. That's why Mercy Medical Center established the area's first accredited Chest Pain Center to ensure the quickest and most accurate diagnosis and treatment possible.

Here, a board-certified ER physician, along with specially trained nurses and other health care professionals, provide a "rapid response" for patients with chest pain. They complete a comprehensive, non-invasive evaluation for coronary artery disease and risk assessment for heart attack.

Every patient arriving at Mercy's ER complaining of chest pain is given an IV, oxygen and an aspirin.

Lab work, an EKG and a chest x-ray are completed. If the medical screening is positive for cardiac disease, a cardiologist is notified. You are then prepared for cardiac catheterization (to identify cardiac artery blockages) and cardiac IV medications are started immediately.

If test results are negative or inconclusive and one or more cardiac risk factors exists – such as age (men over age 45, women over age 55), smoking, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol or a family history of heart problems – you will remain in a special Chest Pain Center observation area. Lab tests and the EKG are repeated within four to six hours after the onset of symptoms to see if results have changed due to cardiac distress.

All patients leaving Mercy's Chest Pain Center are invited to watch an informational videotape, and are provided with a packet of educational materials on heart disease and risk factors, focusing on risk factors they can change.

When to Call 911: Signs and Symptoms of a Heart Attack

It's important to recognize the signs and symptoms of heart attack, and to know that symptoms may differ between men and women. For instance, women may feel shortness of breath, extreme fatigue or a sense of bad indigestion but they do not recognize these symptoms as cardiac-related.

Heart disease is the No. 1 killer of American women of all ages. In fact, cardiovascular disease is the third leading cause of death for women ages 25-44. And 63% of women who die from sudden cardiac arrest had no prior symptoms.

The following symptoms are common to both men and women. If you experience any of these, alone or in combination, you may be having a heart attack:

  • Chest pain, uncomfortable pressure or squeezing that lasts more than a few minutes or goes away and returns. Typical symptoms go away with rest
  • Shortness of breath
  • Pain or discomfort in one or both arms, the back, neck, jaw, or stomach
  • Nausea, dizziness, breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Unexplained feelings of anxiety, fatigue or weakness

Don't hesitate. Call 911 for an ambulance. Tell them you suspect you are having a heart attack. Mercy Chest Pain Center is only minutes away.