How to navigate ER during cardiac emergency

Aug 1, 2017

PHOENIX (Aug. 1, 2017) – How do I get the best care if I have to go to the hospital for a cardiac problem?

Brian Hess, medical director for Abrazo Community Health Network’s hospital emergency departments, provides tips on how to optimize patient care during a cardiac emergency:


It is best to be prepared for emergencies before they happen.

Patients should create a healthcare information sheet that identifies medications, allergies, medical and surgical history and their doctors. This information should be kept with patients at all times.

It is recommended that patients also determine a healthcare power of attorney and have conversations with their families regarding what their wishes would be in certain healthcare situations so their wishes are respected.

The emergency

Do not delay in calling 9-1-1 when there is a concern that a patient is undergoing symptoms of a cardiovascular emergency, including chest discomfort, discomfort in other areas of the upper body, including neck and arm pain, shortness of breath, dizziness, sweating, or other concerning symptoms.

Some patients wait too long to initiate this process.

The emergency department

As an emergency medicine specialists, caregivers want to make certain that patients are receiving the most appropriate and timely care possible. The patients are always the first priority.

It is best for patients to have a trusted friend or family member with them at the emergency department so they can provide the patient history, advocacy, and support.

Information regarding the patient’s health helps healthcare providers provide the highest quality of medical care. These individuals also help ask questions on the patient’s behalf in order to reduce confusion.

If the patient needs something or symptoms change, it is imperative that the healthcare team is made aware as this may trigger a reassessment, repeat testing or treatment changes. Some patients are hesitant to share new symptoms or information regarding changing symptoms and a trusted confidant can be helpful to ensure that all of the information is shared.

Communication and transparency are vitally important from both the patient and care team.

It is important to remember that the hospital may restrict entry for some guests into the patient area to allow for physicians and nurses access to the patient.

While visitation policies are in place to protect patient safety, never be afraid to ask questions. An essential component of the healthcare profession is communicating to patients.


Patients should ask for copies of their results. Written instructions should be provided at every visit at discharge. Be sure to read them and ask questions regarding the instructions.

Many patients don’t realize that these are selected and prepared by their clinical team specifically for that visit. Pay particular attention to instructions for follow-up with primary care physician as well as guidance on when to return.

Emergency care effectiveness relies heavily on follow-up with the regular care team. Patients also should provide feedback to their caregivers while in the emergency department so that the concerns can be addressed while they are there.


Coming to the emergency department with a cardiac emergency or cardiac concern can be an uncertain time for patients, loved ones and friends as tests are performed and care is delivered.

To prevent having a cardiac emergency, patients should work with their primary care physician or cardiologist to reduce risk factors and live a healthy lifestyle.

For more information about emergency care, go to

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