It’s true that chest pain shouldn’t be ignored, but it’s also true that it can be caused by things that are not actually life-threatening.
So when chest pain strikes, how do you know if you should make a trip to the ER? The truth is there really aren’t any hard fast rules.
In fact, up to 30% of heart attacks include symptoms that actually go unnoticed by the patient. This makes coming up with a solid set of guidelines pretty much impossible. So, when in doubt, seek emergency care right away.
But, just to give you some instances where it’s a no-brainer, here is a quick list of moments where questioning the next steps is a horrible idea.
- You are 40 years old or older and have one or more risk factors for CAD (family history, smoking, obesity, sedentary lifestyle, elevated cholesterol, diabetes).
- You are any age and have a very strong family history of early heart disease.
- The pain can best be described by the terms tightness, squeezing, heaviness, or crushing.
- The pain is accompanied by weakness, nausea, shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness or fainting.
- The pain “radiates” to the shoulders, arms, or jaw.
- The pain is more severe than any you have had before.
- The pain is accompanied by a sense of alarm, or the feeling that something is horribly wrong (this is often called by doctors, “a sense of impending doom”).
- The pain gets continually worse over the first 10 or 15 minutes.
- The pain is new –- you have never experienced anything like it before.
The most important thing is to remember that when you decide to seek emergency medical attention for chest pain, seek out the nearest emergency room and go immediately,