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Monday, May 29, 2023

Chest Pains

WHAT TO DO ABOUT CHEST PAINS “Should I go to the ER, or shouldn’t I?” “These chest pains could be just indigestion.” “I don’t have time to deal with this problem.” “It’s probably nothing.” Sound familiar? When it comes to chest pain, words of denial could cost you your life. Did you know that 60% of fatal heart attack victims never go to the hospital because they think it’s heartburn? “We see this denial mechanism all the time,” notes West Hills Hospital cardiologist Robert Blum, M.D. “It’s a natural reaction that too often prevents people from seeking the help they need.” Specialty Centers such as the West Hills Hospital & Medical Center Chest Pain Center, open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are designed to take the “guesswork” out of chest pain. Within 12 hours, patients receive a thorough evaluation to determine whether their chest pain is caused by Aunt Lilly’s chili or an underlying cardiac problem. “The Chest Pain Center is a state-of-the-art cardiac diagnostic program, actually located inside the hospital’s emergency room, giving patients immediate access to both emergency room physicians and cardiologists,” explains Alan L. Kuban, M.D., Medical Director of the Emergency Department. “Our goal is to save lives and help to minimize damage that may occur from a heart attack. We do this in an atmosphere designed to make patients comfortable and lessen their anxieties.” According to West Hills interventional cardiologist Michael B. Levey, M.D., these tests may include blood enzyme tests, electrocardiograms (EKGs), cardiac nuclear imaging, echocardiograms, and ultrasound. “If necessary, we can perform more extensive tests like coronary angiography and exercise treadmill testing.” If during the 12-hour period, the patient shows evidence of recent heart damage, he or she will be transferred to an inpatient monitored bed and needed treatment will be provided. The best Valley Medical Centers offer the full range of cardiac services, from angioplasty and stenting to open heart surgery, if necessary. On the other hand, if after the 12-hour period of monitoring and testing, doctors determine that the chest discomfort was not due to any recent heart damage, the patient will be discharged and referred to his or her private physician for further care. “Thankfully, the majority of patients who are evaluated for chest pain do not have a cardiac problem,” says Dr. Levey. “But, it is vital that those that do have a cardiac problem are diagnosed quickly and accurately — before serious damage occurs.” There’s no need to live with indecision and uncertainty. If you are experiencing any suspicious symptoms (see sidebar), check in and have yourself “checked out.” Information for this article was provided by The Chest Pain Center, at West Hills Hospital and Medical Center. For more information, call 818-676-4999. —————–sidebar—————— WARNING SIGNS OF A HEART ATTACK If you experience any of these “classic” warning signals of a heart attack, call 911 immediately: ? Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes. ? Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms. ? Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath. Less common warning signs of heart attack: ? Atypical chest pain, stomach or abdominal pain. ? Nausea or dizziness. ? Shortness of breath and difficulty breathing. ? Unexplained anxiety, weakness or fatigue. ? Palpitations, cold sweat or paleness. ###

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