Chest Pain Observation

It is often hard to give a specific diagnosis for the cause of chest pain. Among other possibilities your symptoms might be caused by inadequate oxygen delivery to your heart (angina). Angina that is not treated or evaluated can lead to a heart attack (myocardial infarction) or death.

Blood tests, electrocardiograms, and X-rays may have been done to help determine a possible cause of your chest pain. After evaluation and observation, your health care provider has determined that it is unlikely your pain was caused by an unstable condition that requires hospitalization. However, a full evaluation of your pain may need to be completed, with additional diagnostic testing as directed. It is very important to keep your follow-up appointments. Not keeping your follow-up appointments could result in permanent heart damage, disability, or death. If there is any problem keeping your follow-up appointments, you must call your health care provider.

HOME CARE INSTRUCTIONS

Due to the slight chance that your pain could be angina, it is important to follow your health care provider's treatment plan and also maintain a healthy lifestyle:

  • Maintain or work toward achieving a healthy weight.

  • Stay physically active and exercise regularly.

  • Decrease your salt intake.

  • Eat a balanced, healthy diet. Talk to a dietician to learn about heart healthy foods.

  • Increase your fiber intake by including whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and nuts in your diet.

  • Avoid situations that cause stress, anger, or depression.

  • Take medicines as advised by your health care provider. Report any side effects to your health care provider. Do not stop medicines or adjust the dosages on your own.

  • Quit smoking. Do not use nicotine patches or gum until you check with your health care provider.

  • Keep your blood pressure, blood sugar, and cholesterol levels within normal limits.

  • Limit alcohol intake to no more than 1 drink per day for women that are not pregnant and 2 drinks per day for men.

  • Do not abuse drugs.

SEEK IMMEDIATE MEDICAL CARE IF:

You have severe chest pain or pressure which may include symptoms such as:

  • You feel pain or pressure in you arms, neck, jaw, or back.

  • You have severe back or abdominal pain, feel sick to your stomach (nauseous), or throw up (vomit).

  • You are sweating profusely.

  • You are having a fast or irregular heartbeat.

  • You feel short of breath while at rest.

  • You notice increasing shortness of breath during rest, sleep, or with activity.

  • You have chest pain that does not get better after rest or after taking your usual medicine.

  • You wake from sleep with chest pain.

  • You are unable to sleep because you cannot breathe.

  • You develop a frequent cough or you are coughing up blood.

  • You feel dizzy, faint, or experience extreme fatigue.

  • You develop severe weakness, dizziness, fainting, or chills.

Any of these symptoms may represent a serious problem that is an emergency. Do not wait to see if the symptoms will go away. Call your local emergency services (911 in the U.S.). Do not drive yourself to the hospital.

MAKE SURE YOU:

  • Understand these instructions.

  • Will watch your condition.

  • Will get help right away if you are not doing well or get worse.