Certified Chest Pain Centers
The Emergency departments at Mercy Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital are certified Chest Pain Centers. This is a national designation given to hospitals with a proven record of success in treating chest pain and heart attacks. And, Mercy and St. Elizabeth are the only Fox Valley Chest Pain Centers with PCI designation, an additional certification for excellence in emergency cardiac angioplasty.
Both Mercy’s and St. Elizabeth’s “door-to-balloon” time, or the time it takes to treat a heart attack, is well below the national average. That means faster care leading to a better chance of recovery.
What is a heart attack?
Heart attacks are caused when one or more coronary arteries are blocked and blood flow to the heart muscle is cut off. This blockage is usually caused by atherosclerosis, a condition in which plaque builds on artery walls and eventually closes off the flow. A heart attack can also be caused by a spasm in an artery, causing blood flow to decrease or stop altogether.
Warning signs of a heart attack
More than 60 percent of heart attacks victims have these symptoms:
- uncomfortable pressure or pain in the center of the chest
- pain in the shoulders, neck or arms
- shortness of breath
- lightheadedness, fainting, sweating or nausea
Not all of these symptoms take place with every heart attack. Sometimes the symptoms can be sharp and unmistakable. Other times they can seem like persistent heartburn or temporary muscle soreness. If you experience any of these symptoms, take an aspirin and call 911.
Treating a heart attack
Heart attacks are treated initially with a remedy called angioplasty. This is a procedure in which doctors insert a “balloon” into a blocked artery. According to the national standard, results are best when angioplasty is performed within 90 minutes from the moment a patient enters the emergency room. At Mercy Medical Center and St. Elizabeth Hospital, our experts beat this national standard by ten minutes or more.