Now accepting Telehealth appointments. Schedule a virtual visit.

When Do Chest Pains Warrant a Trip to the ER?

Your chest feels tight, pain is emanating from your heart, you’re certain you’re having a heart attack and need to race to the emergency room. You’re not alone. Chest pains send about seven million Americans to the ER every year, afraid that they’re about to have or are having a heart attack.

While chest pain is one of several signs of a heart attack, it doesn’t necessarily mean you’re having one. So how serious does the pain need to be to warrant a trip to the ER?

Chest pain and heart attacks

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 790,000 Americans suffer a heart attack each year, and nearly half of cardiac deaths happen outside of a hospital setting.

Chest pain before a heart attack occurs because your heart is not getting enough oxygen-rich blood. The more time that passes, the more damage your heart receives. So, the sooner you get emergency care, the better your chances of surviving a heart attack.

If you also have upper body pain, including pinching, numbness, or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach, you should seek medical care. Or if you’re experiencing any of the following heart attack signs in addition to your chest pain, you should head to the emergency room right away:

It’s important to note that not everyone experiences chest pains before a heart attack, so if you experience more than one of the symptoms mentioned above without chest pains, you should also seek emergency care.

If you have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, are a smoker, or have had a previous heart attack, your chances of having another heart attack increase.

Other causes of chest pain

Chest pain is also a symptom of a wide range of conditions that may or may not require emergency care, including:

When do I need to go to the ER?

Chest pain, regardless of its cause, should always be checked out by a medical professional. The only question is, can it wait until morning or do you need to head to the emergency room right away?

If you’re experiencing any of the signs of a heart attack, have a family history of heart attacks or heart disease, or have an underlying medical problem, you should make a trip to the ER.

A few signs that your chest pain might not be a medical emergency include pain that:

However, you should never hesitate to call 911 and head to the emergency room if you suspect a serious problem. Heart attack symptoms vary greatly from person to person, and it’s always better to be safe than sorry.

The staff at Prime Heart and Vascular can answer all of your questions and guide you through what can be a frightening process.

You Might Also Enjoy...

5 Ways to Prevent a Heart Attack

Heart attacks are terrifying, life-threatening events. Fortunately, there are some things that you can do to reduce your chances of having a heart attack, and they may be easier than you think.

What Causes Fluttering In Your Chest?

If you have a new love in your life or on the flip side, if you’ve been startled or frightened, you may have a flutter in your chest. That flutter could also indicate a more serious condition. Read on to learn more.

Do Varicose Veins Bring Health Risks?

Part of growing older is watching our bodies change. For some of us, that includes varicose veins. They aren’t attractive to many people, but what they could mean for your health may surprise you. Read on to learn more.

Are You at Risk for an Aortic Aneurysm?

There are plenty of good reasons to take care of your arteries, but reducing your risk for an aortic aneurysm could make a huge difference in your health and longevity. If you’re at risk, we’re here to help.

Should I Be Worried about Tachycardia?

So many things can affect your heart, but you don’t always have to worry about little things. When little things happen more often, though, it’s time to see a cardiologist. Learn more about rapid heart rates and your health.