Behind the scenes: What happens when you call 911 with chest pain

Posted at 4:27 PM, Feb 18, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-19 06:30:22-05

INDIANAPOLIS — February is American Heart Month, and RTV6 is proud to support raising awareness for heart disease by sharing stories that affect you.

MORE | Heart disease, stroke cause one in three deaths among women every year |

So, what happens if you experience chest pain at home? What should you do?

When it comes to chest pain, every second counts.

"Time is crucial," Lucas Haut, who has worked for IEMS for six years and been a paramedic for ten, said.

He said if you feel the pain at home, first thing's first: call 9-1-1.

Upon arrival, Haut said EMS crews will assess and, if needed, load you into an ambulance to begin treatment immediately.

"We can get you diagnosed earlier, get you treated, start the treatment path a lot sooner than driving a car to the hospital," Haut said.

What exactly happens in terms of monitoring and treatment, while in route to the hospital?

Haut said the patient is able to be connected to an IV for fluids, take aspirin and receive nitro. He said the main source of monitoring is the 12-lead EKG system, which is a representation of the heart’s electrical activity and can detect heart damage.

The wires of the 12-lead are connected to various pulse points on the body.

I had my heart levels read, and good news: I've got a healthy heart.

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Haut showed me my results and pointed out how to read the monitor test.

"The low point there, the S and the T, that low segment there, if that's elevated up, then that shows damage to the heart. That's what we look for, it's called ST elevation."

The next step? The ambulance crew alerts the hospital, so doctors are ready to perform an electrocardiogram, which can detect heart attacks.

And if a heart attack is shown to have happened, doctors take quick action.

“The cardiac team is activated immediately, included a cardiologist, radiology technicians and nurses to come in and perform a heart catherization, emergently,” Dr. Rolf Kreutz, a cardiologist at Eskenazi Health, explained.

During a heart catheterization, doctors thread a wire through the blocked artery, balloon it up and put in a stent - if necessary.

This allows the blockage to open back up and the patient can return to living a normal life, if proper health actions are taken.

Dr. Kreutz said living healthy is key. "I think the main thing is just trying to live a healthy lifestyle, eat healthy, be active and exercising and prevent from being sedentary early in life.”

A well-oiled machine for treatment, saving lives one call at a time.

If you experience chest pain or have symptoms including pain or pressure in the chest, cold sweats, difficulty breathing, nausea, dizziness or even passing out, call 9-1-1 immediately to receive the needed care and treatment.

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