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When should I go to the emergency room (ER) for chest pain?

If you have a known history or family history of heart disease and experience chest pain, you should go to the emergency room.

If you have chest pain, call 911 or go to the hospital emergency room for:

  • Sudden squeezing, pressure, fullness or crushing feeling in your chest
  • Very sharp, piercing chest pain with trouble breathing—especially if you have not been moving your body very much
  • Chest pain that spreads out into your back, neck, jaw, shoulders or arms
  • Chest pain with dizziness, sweating, a fast heartbeat or trouble breathing
  • Chest pain with throwing up or nausea
  • Angina that is suddenly worse, longer lasting or brought on by less activity

It is better to go to the hospital and learn that you are not having a heart attack than to stay home and have one. That’s because the consequences of an untreated heart attack are so great. If your symptoms persist for more than 15 minutes, you are at more risk that heart muscle cells will die. It is critical for you and your heart that you receive immediate medical attention. To receive the best care, you have about 90 minutes from the onset of the heart attack for an interventional cardiologist or surgeon to restore the flow of blood to the heart before critical heart tissue dies or is damaged.

Know that today your chances of surviving a heart attack—and surviving it well—are greater than ever, and that patients and physicians are a team working together for heart health. Recognition of the symptoms of a heart attack and seeking prompt medical attention are crucial in improving one’s odds of surviving a heart attack, so the first and probably most important link in the battle against coronary artery disease is seeking PROMPT medical attention when there is any suspicion of a heart attack.

You should go to the emergency room (ER) any time you've had chest pain that you've never had before. Also, nausea, debilitating weakness or dizziness can sometimes be a sign of a heart attack. If you have a symptom like chest pain or severe weakness, or dizziness or nausea, and you feel that it's a life threat, you should seek treatment right away.

A patient with chest pain should be evaluated with x-rays and an EKG to give further evidence on the seriousness of the chest pain.

Dr. Chetan A. Patel, MD
Cardiologist (Heart Specialist)

If you are having chest pain and unsure if you should go to the emergency room, GO to the emergency room. The quicker a heart attack is detected and treated, the better for the patient. Different types of chest pain and even low level chest pain can signify a heart attack. It is better to be safe than sorry when dealing with your heart.

The contents of this website are for informational purposes only and are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Nor does the contents of this website constitute the establishment of a physician patient or therapeutic relationship. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.