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Why Calling 9-1-1 is Your Best Decision


If your chest pain is being caused by a heart-related problem, calling 9-1-1 gives you the best chance at survival. It’s not about getting to the emergency room more quickly (although ambulances do have that whole “going through red lights” thing going for them).

It’s about getting you emergency treatment ASAP. In some cases, that treatment could start at your home or en route to the ER—EMTs can do that. In other cases, it’s about getting all the right information about you so that the ER team can be ready to hit the ground running when you arrive. After all, if you drive yourself (or someone else drives you)—they won’t even know you are coming, much less have all your information and vitals before you arrive.

Chest pain (or pressure, squeezing, tightness) should never be ignored. It just doesn’t pay to take that risk.

What Will the ER Team Want to Know About Your Chest Pain?

If you head to the emergency room with chest-related pain or pressure, chances are you’ll be asked the following questions to help your doctors better understand your symptoms:

  • When did it start?
  • What were you doing when it started?
  • How long has it lasted?
  • Has it been constant? Or does it come and go?
  • What does it feel like?
  • What makes it better or worse?
  • Is the pain in one place or does it move?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how bad is the pain?
  • Were you sick or injured recently?
  • Has this happened before? Either the same pain or the same location? Anything even similar to what you’re feeling now?
  • If you did have a past event, how is this one the same or different?
  • Do you have any other symptoms like nausea, vomiting, fever, cough, sweating…anything else?
  • Have you taken any trips recently? Did you fly or travel outside the country?
  • Have you had a recent period of inactivity, such as resting up after a surgery?
  • Did you take any medications to relive the pain? If so, what medications did you take and at what time? What was the dose of the medication?


What Tests May be Performed to Evaluate Chest Pain?

If you go to an ER for chest pain, you may have one or more of the following tests:

  • Blood tests
  • Chest x-ray
  • EKG (electrocardiogram)
  • Echocardiogram
  • Stress test

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