It's not always a crushing pain, a clutched chest and a sudden collapse. Sometimes a heart attack builds so slowly in severity that you don't even know it's happening.
Heart attack symptoms can be atypical--particularly among women, people with diabetes and the elderly. That's why it's important to recognize possible warning signs, including:
- Discomfort in the chest that may feel like pressure or squeezing.
- Pain or discomfort in your arms, back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Nausea, light-headedness or breaking out in a cold sweat.
- Shortness of breath.
Heart attacks are the leading cause of death in the United States, with 600,000 fatalities each year due to heart disease. But according to the Society for Chest Pain Centers, patients often wait too long after the onset of heart attack symptoms before they seek medical care.
Rush University Medical Center is working to dramatically reduce the time between the onset of symptoms and treatment, and it recently became the first academic medical center in Chicago to be accredited as a chest pain center.
"Rush is committed to improving hospital response to heart attack victims. Minutes can make the difference between life and death," says Gary Schaer, MD, director of Rush's cardiac catheterization lab.
To earn the accreditation from the Society of Chest Pain Centers, Rush had to meet or exceed a set of stringent criteria, which included significantly reducing the time it takes for a patient experiencing possible heart attack symptoms to see a physician.
Accredited hospitals also have to create more effective systems to get patients into the catheterization lab, so a blocked artery can be opened in the shortest amount of time.
The emergency department at Rush now has a single 24/7 tele-pager activation process that calls six highly skilled health care specialists, including an interventional cardiologist and two additional cardiologists, to the emergency room to quickly make a diagnosis and start treatment.
Faculty and staff also meet monthly to review cases and discuss possible improvements.
"Everyone knows their job and works together in a supportive, respectful team environment to rapidly make decisions," says emergency medicine specialist Yanina Purim-Shem-Tov, MD, medical director of the chest pain center.
More Information at Your Fingertips:
- Read the news release.
- For more information about care for heart-related treatment and services at Rush, visit the Heart and Vascular Programs home page.
- Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (888 352-7874)
Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.
If you enjoyed this article and are not already a subscriber, subscribe today to Discover Rush Online. Youll receive health information, breaking medical news and helpful tips for maintaining your health each month via e-mail.