When to Go to the ER for Chest Pain

When To Go To The ER For Chest Pain

If you’ve ever experienced heartbreak, then you know that not all chest pain is something that needs immediate emergency care. But, as you get older, any chest pain should not be taken lightly. When you experience pain — whether it’s sharp, dull, severe, or mild — recognize if there are any other symptoms that are also occurring. What symptoms constitute an ER visit? And, how can you prevent them?

3 Chest Pains that Require a Visit to the Emergency Room

Heart Attack

Probably the first one on everyone’s mind — when they experience any kind of chest pain — is a heart attack. Heart attacks occur when the flow of blood to the heart is blocked. This can be caused by a variety of health issues – including obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking.

Symptoms of a heart attack often include:

  • Fainting
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Severe lightheadedness or dizziness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Squeezing, tightness, burning, or uncomfortable chest pain
  • Sudden aching in one or both arms
  • Sudden fatigue
  • Breaking out into a cold sweat

Prevention: In order to prevent you or a loved one from experiencing a heart attack, you should talk to your doctor about your risks and make appropriate diet changes where necessary. Taking low doses of aspirin daily has shown to reduce the risk of a heart attack, but you should consult with your doctor about this route before moving forward on your own. Other lifestyle changes — including practicing meditation and conversing with family and friends — can also play a role.

Coronary Artery Disease

Another common symptom of chest pain includes coronary artery disease – also called CAD. It typically involves the narrowing or blocking of the coronary arteries, usually caused by atherosclerosis. If left untreated, you could be at a higher risk of a heart attack.

Symptoms of CAD include:

  • Uncomfortable pressure or fullness
  • Tightness or squeezing
  • Dull ache
  • Burning sensation
  • Shortness of breath
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Prevention: If you’re at risk of coronary artery disease, your doctor will suggest some changes to your diet. Eating a well-balanced meal with plenty of leafy greens is a great way to clean your arteries and reduce buildup. In most cases, this can help prevent the condition, but if there is no improvement, your doctor may suggest medications or surgery.

Pulmonary Embolism

Pulmonary embolism takes place when a blood clot passes through the bloodstream and lodges in the lungs. This can be extremely dangerous and produce a variety of unpleasant symptoms – including coughing up blood. This condition typically produces multiple clots, so it’s important to see an emergency clinic and have a doctor break up the clumps safely.

Some symptoms of pulmonary embolism include:

  • Trouble breathing
  • Chest pain
  • Acute pleuritis
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Fever
  • Spitting up blood
  • Shock

Prevention: Regular physical activity can help prevent pulmonary embolism and hasten recovery. Elevating your legs during the night and wearing compression socks helps to move blood more efficiently. If you have a history of pulmonary embolism, then your doctor may prescribe blood thinners – especially before or after surgery. In some cases, pneumatic compression is also used to help massage and squeeze the veins in your legs and improve blood flow.

Other Symptoms that Constitute a Visit to the ER

While the previous symptoms are all signs of specific chest pain issues, there are additional signs that something else may be wrong. These symptoms can be caused by a variety of issues, and you should visit the ER if you experience any of the following:

  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Extremely low blood pressure or heart rate
  • Extremely rapid heartbeat and/or breathing
  • Respiratory trouble or shortness of breath – especially after a lengthy period of inactivity
  • Dizziness and/or nausea
  • Suddenly feeling pressure, tightness, squeezing, or crushing under the breastbone
  • Pain spreading into the left arm, back, or jaw
  • Sudden loss of color or excessive sweating

Emergency Services in Colorado Springs and Texas

If you or a loved one are showing signs of having severe chest pain, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.

Find the Complete Care location nearest you.