Chest pain is among the top symptoms of patients who visit the Walla Walla General Hospital Emergency Center. The Chest Pain Center designation ensures that any patient who arrives at WWGH complaining of chest pain or other symptoms of a heart attack can be confident he or she is receiving care that meets or exceeds the highest national standards of care. Because WWGH has received accreditation through the Society of Chest Pain Centers, we have established a higher level of expertise and constantly emphasize the importance of standardized diagnostic and treatment programs.
What is a Chest Pain Center?
The Chest Pain Center isn't a building or even a department in our hospital. It is an accreditation awarded to a handful of hospitals in the United States by the Society of Chest Pain Centers. This accreditation means that WWGH has met the society's strict requirements for everything from treatment facility design to specialized training of emergency personnel to timely diagnosis and treatment, including angioplasty.
To become an Accredited Chest Pain Center, WWGH has demonstrated its expertise and commitment to quality patient care by undergoing a rigorous evaluation of its care and processes by SCPC. For the Walla Walla community, this means processes are in place that meet strict criteria aimed at:
- Reducing the time from onset of symptoms to diagnosis and treatment
- Treating patients more quickly during the critical window of time when the integrity of the heart muscle can be preserved
- Monitoring patients when it is not certain that they are having a heart attack to ensure that they are not sent home too quickly or needlessly admitted to the hospital
Is It a Heart Attack?
Chances are you won't know for sure. And because most start slowly with mild symptoms, too many people wait too long before seeking help. Heres what to watch for:
- Pain in the center of your chest that lasts more than a few minutes. An uncomfortable pressure, squeezing or feeling of fullness.
- Discomfort in one or both arms, or in your back, neck, jaw or stomach.
- Shortness of breath, possibly occurring even before you feel chest pain.
- A cold sweat, nausea or light-headedness.
If you're having these symptoms, get medical care immediately. If symptoms are severe, call 9-1-1. And remember, early intervention can make the difference between life and death.