Chest pain is about more than pain in the chest. But when it comes on suddenly, experts behind new guidelines on evaluating and diagnosing it don’t want you pondering nuances. They want you to act. Now.
“The most important thing people need to know about chest pain is that if they experience it, they should call 911,” said Dr. Phillip Levy, a professor of emergency medicine and assistant vice president for research at Wayne State University in Detroit. “People shouldn’t waste time trying to self-diagnose. They should immediately go to the nearest hospital. And if they’re going to go to the nearest hospital to get evaluated for chest pain, ideally, it should be by an ambulance.”
Levy helped lead the committee that wrote the new guidelines from the American Heart Association and American College of Cardiology. The recommendations aim to help patients and health care professionals act faster, make smarter choices and communicate better about chest pain.
Part of that is spreading the word that some people may not report chest “pain” but rather chest “discomfort,” which may include pressure or tightness in the chest but also in other areas, including the shoulders, arms, neck, back, upper abdomen or jaw.