What You Should Expect from the ER If You Are Having a Heart Attack
Sometimes it is difficult to know when you should seek medical treatment if you have chest pains. It could be a bad case of heartburn, or something more severe like a heart attack. It is better to be safe than sorry and get seen in the emergency room.
When you arrive at the emergency room you will first be seen by a triage nurse. It is his/her responsibility to assess the conditions of each patient so those with the most life-threatening symptoms are seen first. If you believe you are having a heart attack, tell the triage nurse and you will be seen very quickly.
Once you are brought into a room, the emergency room doctors will work to confirm a diagnosis (or rule it out). Your doctors may order any of the following tests/procedures to confirm a heart attack:
- Medical history
- Physical examination
- IV fluids
- Electrocardiogram (ECG) to diagnose a heart attack
- ECG to monitor and screen for abnormal heart rhythms
- Blood tests
- Cardiac catheterization (threading a small tube through a vein to open a blocked artery)
As part of your medical history, be prepared to answer a lot of questions, including:
- The severity of your pain
- Current health issues, including past history of heart disease
- Risk factors and lifestyle habits (smoking, alcohol and drugs)
- Current medications including supplements
- Allergies, including medications
If you are admitted to the hospital with a heart attack diagnosis, you will likely spend the next 24 hours in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) or the Coronary Care Unit (CCU). HIghly-trained nursing staff and doctors will continue to monitor and treat your condition.
After 24 hours of remaining stable, you will likely be moved to a telemetry floor for continued monitoring. If your condition continues to improve, you will likely be able to go home within two to four days.
The attorneys at McEnery Price Messey & Sullivan hope you never find yourself in the ER with a heart attack, but if you do, we wish you a smooth and quick recovery.