Does chest pain always require immediate medical care? Find out more.
When people think about chest pain they often think about a heart attack. After all, chest pain is a classic symptom of this serious and possibly life-threatening condition; however, chest pain doesn’t necessarily mean that you are dealing with a heart attack. Furthermore, your chest pain may not even be heart-related at all. Find out the many causes of chest pain, when to seek emergency medical care, and when to see our West Monroe, LA, cardiologist Dr. Virginia Gonzalez for an evaluation.
Causes of Chest Pain
Chest pain is a common symptom of heart disease. With the growing number of people developing heart disease it’s so important that you see a doctor to rule out heart disease if you are experiencing chest pain of any kind. Heart disease can easily be managed with lifestyle changes and medication.
Other cardiac-related causes of chest pain include:
- Angina: a blockage of blood flow to the heart
- Myocarditis: inflammation of the heart muscle
- Pericarditis: inflammation of the tissue around the heart
Of course, there are also non-cardiac-related causes of chest pain too. These causes include:
- Lung infections and conditions: this includes inflammation of the lungs (pleurisy), airway problems (asthma), a blood clot, or a collapsed lung
- Digestive problems: this includes heartburn or inflammation of the esophagus, pancreas, or gallbladder
- Bone and muscle problems: rib fractures, muscle strain, or costochondritis
- Anxiety disorder: sometimes a panic attack can lead to heart palpitations, breathing problems and chest tightness
When to Call 911
There are no clear-cut rules when it comes to determining whether chest pain requires emergency medical attention; however, there are some guidelines that you should follow. Call 911 or head to your nearest emergency room if:
- You feel as if your chest is being crushed
- You have pain, numbness, or weakness that travels to the shoulder, arms, neck, or lower jaw
- You also experience shortness of breath or trouble breathing
- The pain gets worse within 15 minutes
- You feel dizzy or lightheaded
- Your chest pain occurs at rest
- Your symptoms aren’t alleviated by medication (e.g. antacids)
- You experience a rapid or irregular heartbeat
- Your chest pain is accompanied by nausea and vomiting
When to See a Cardiologist
If you are experiencing chest pain in West Monroe, LA, the only way to find out what’s going on is to see a heart doctor who will be able to perform the necessary diagnostic tests. A doctor should check out any cases of chest pain as soon as possible.
Nothing is more important than your heart health. If you are dealing with any symptoms or issues it’s important that you have a cardiologist that you can turn to for care. Call Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center in West Monroe, LA, today.
What you should know about heart attacks and how Dr. Virginia Gonzalez of Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center in West Monroe, LA, can keep you healthy
What is a heart attack?
Heart attacks, unlike heart failure (which is a chronic, long-standing condition), occur suddenly. A heart attack, a myocardial infarction, is when a blood clot develops in a coronary artery. This cuts off most or all blood supply to part of the heart muscle. If oxygenated blood isn't restored quickly, the heart muscle will falter, causing a heart attack.
The risk of experiencing this event increases for men over 45 and a woman over 55.
What are the symptoms and signs of a heart attack?
Symptoms vary from one person to another, but if you think that you're having a heart attack, call 911 immediately. Common signs include:
- Tightness, discomfort, and pain in the chest area
- Pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, and stomach
- Suffering from shortness of breath
- Breaking out in a cold sweat
- Feeling lightheaded
Other symptoms include coughing, vomiting, dizziness, the face seeming gray in color, and a feeling of terror that life is ending.
What can people do to improve their health?
- Maintain a healthy weight according to your cardiologist's advice.
- Exercise at least 30 minutes a day.
- Quit smoking and eat a healthy diet with plenty of fruits and vegetables.
- Manage your blood pressure and cholesterol, especially if you suffer from hypertension (high blood pressure).
- Visit your West Monroe doctor for regular medical checkups.
Do you need help?
You need to speak with your cardiologist if you think that you're at risk of experiencing a heart attack. If you are at all concerned, call Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center in West Monroe, LA, today at (318) 338-3540 to learn more about what you can do for your health.
Coronary artery disease is a serious condition that occurs when the arteries responsible for carrying blood to the heard become narrow due to the buildup of plaque and cholesterol inside the arteries. An angioplasty is a procedure for opening up narrowed or blocked coronary arteries to improve blood flow to the heart. At the Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA, angioplasties are performed by our cardiologist, Dr. Virginia Gonzalez.
Purpose of Angioplasty
The coronary arteries are the arteries that carry blood to the heart. Unfortunately, plaque, cholesterol, and other substances can build up on the walls of the coronary arteries. This build up can lead to a narrowing of the coronary arteries and restrict blood flow to the heart. Reduced blood flow can result in the formation of blood clots, which can eventually lead to a heart attack. The purpose of an angioplasty is to clear plaque and cholesterol build up in the coronary arteries to improve blood flow to the heart.
The procedure for performing an angioplasty involves the use of a catheter and an expandable balloon to open up the blocked coronary artery. The catheter, which is a small, thin tube, will be inserted into the arteries in either the arm or groin area. The area will be numbed prior to the insertion of the catheter. Once the catheter has been inserted into the arteries, our cardiologist will use an X-ray screen to guide the catheter to the blocked coronary artery. Once there, an expandable balloon on a thin wire will be threaded into the artery where the blockage exists.
With the balloon in place, it is then inflated. As the balloon inflates, it opens up and expands the artery by pushing away plaque and cholesterol build-up. The balloon might be inflated several times during the angioplasty to fully open up the artery so enough blood can flow to the heart. For some patients, a stent can be placed in the artery to keep it open. Following the angioplasty, the catheter and balloon are removed, but the stent remains in place. Patients typically stay overnight after undergoing an angioplasty through our cardiology practice in West Monroe, LA.
An angioplasty can improve your heart health and reduce the risk of heart attack by opening up narrowed or blocked coronary arteries. To find out if you could benefit from an angioplasty, schedule an appointment with Dr. Gonzalez by calling the Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, APMC, in West Monroe, LA, at (318) 338-3540. For your convenience, we also have a second location in Winnsboro, LA.
Chest pain is one symptom that you certainly don’t want to ignore. After all, when people think about chest pain they often think about serious and potentially life-threatening problems like a heart attack. While not all chest pain is considered serious or life-threatening it’s important to know when you should visit our West Monroe and Winnsboro, LA cardiologist Dr. Virginia Gonzalez for further evaluation.
What can cause chest pain?
There are many reasons why someone may experience chest pain and some of these problems aren’t even related to the heart. Chest pain may be the result of cardiac, respiratory, bone and muscle, or gastrointestinal problems.
The most common cardiac-related causes of chest pain include,
Heart attack: a reduction in blood flow to the blood vessels of the heart that can lead to cell death
Coronary artery disease (CAD): a blockage in the blood vessels of the heart that can cause chest pain known as angina
Myocarditis: inflammation of the heart muscle
Pericarditis: Inflammation or an infection of the sac that surrounds the heart
Mitral valve prolapse: a common condition that causes one or more valves of the heart to function improperly
Sometimes it isn’t the heart at all that is causing your chest pain. Common lung and gastrointestinal problems can also lead to chest pain:
Pneumonia: an infection of the lungs that can cause a deep aching pain in the chest
Asthma: along with difficulty breathing, shortness of breath and wheezing you may also experience chest tightness and pain
Gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD): also known as acid reflux, this condition can cause the contents in the stomach to move back up to the throat, which can cause heartburn and even chest pain
Hiatal hernia: this condition happens when part of the stomach pushes into the chest, which can lead to acid reflux, chest pain and pain that gets worse when lying down
Gallbladder problems and pancreatitis can also lead to chest pain. While not as common, muscle strains and rib problems may also be responsible for chest pain.
When should I see a cardiologist?
It’s best to play it safe when it comes to handling chest pain and to call our West Monroe, LA, heart doctor if you are experiencing chest pain. If chest pain appears suddenly and isn’t alleviated with over-the-counter anti-inflammatories then you should see a doctor as soon as possible.
Call 911 or head to your local hospital if you are experiencing pressure or tightness under your breastbone, if the pain spreads to your back or arms, if you also experience a rapid heart rate or if your blood pressure drops.
Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center in West Monroe and Winnsboro, LA, is here to provide you with the comprehensive cardiac care you are looking for. Whether you are dealing with chest pain or other heart-related symptoms it’s important to turn to the experts who can provide you with the answers you need.
Electrocardiograms (i.e. EKG) and cardiac stress tests are two common diagnostic tools to help your cardiologist diagnose a variety of serious heart conditions. Easy and non-invasive, these two tests are available here at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center in West Monroe and Winnsboro, LA, and they very well could end up saving your life—read on to learn how!
More about EKG and Cardiac Stress Tests
When you have an EKG, small electrodes are placed on the skin of your chest, arms, and legs. These electrodes monitor the electrical activity of your heart. An EKG is a vital diagnostic tool which is useful to detect:
- Decreased blood flow to your heart muscle
- Abnormal changes or thickening of the heart muscle
- Abnormal changes in heart rhythm
- Any signs you have had a heart attack
When you undergo a cardiac stress test, you are hooked up to heart monitoring equipment. During the test, you walk on a treadmill at both a speed and incline that is gradually increasing. As your heart becomes stimulated to work harder, the equipment records your heart rate and blood pressure, which is then reviewed by your cardiologist.
However, sometimes walking on a treadmill is not possible, especially for people with arthritis or foot problems. In these cases, a nuclear stress test is recommended. A nuclear stress test uses medication to stimulate heart function instead of the treadmill, and it is useful to detect:
- Signs or symptoms of coronary artery disease
- Causes of chest pain or breathing problems
- The possibility of a future heart attack
- How much activity and exercise you can tolerate safely
Concerned About Your Heart Health? Give Us a Call
To learn more about cardiac testing and treatment, call Dr. Virginia Gonzalez at Cardiovascular Diagnostic Center, with offices in West Monroe and Winnsboro, LA. Dial (318) 338-3540 now to protect your heart!
This website includes materials that are protected by copyright, or other proprietary rights. Transmission or reproduction of protected items beyond that allowed by fair use, as defined in the copyright laws, requires the written permission of the copyright owners.