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Accredited Chest Pain Centers

If you or a loved one experience tightness in the chest, pain or discomfort in the neck, jaw or arms, or shortness of breath or fatigue, call 9-1-1 immediately for the fast response that can save your life. Never drive yourself or let a family member drive you to the emergency room when you have these symptoms.

Minutes Matter to Your Heart Health

When you experience chest pain or discomfort, minutes matter. From your first call to emergency services, you’re connected to the heart experts at Adventist HealthCare, who work quickly and seamlessly to deliver the care you need from the ambulance to your hospital room.

That rapid, collaborative care is all part of what it means to be accredited as a Chest Pain Center with PCI, a designation awarded by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC). Our Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital is one of only two hospitals in Maryland to hold Version V accreditation with PCI. And our Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center is only one of five hospitals in Maryland and the first in Montgomery County and the Washington, DC metro area to achieve Cycle III status.

Rapid Response, Comprehensive Care

Rely on our highly trained cardiovascular team to respond quickly to symptoms of acute coronary syndrome (ACS). You'll receive an EKG within 10 minutes of your arrival and begin appropriate treatment that helps preserve more of your heart muscle.

When you're treated at our Chest Pain Centers, your cardiovascular team may use percutaneous coronary intervention or PCI (angioplasty) to open the blockages that contribute to heart attack. And, when additional heart surgery is needed, you have access to the full spectrum of comprehensive, life-saving cardiac care within the Adventist HealthCare system.

What are Chest Pain Centers?

Hospitals earn accreditation as Chest Pain Centers through an evaluation process designed to improve treatment for patients with symptoms of heart attack. As accredited Chest Pain Centers with PCI, Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital and Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center:

  • Integrate hospital emergency department efforts with community emergency medical systems and first responders
  • Quickly assess, diagnose and treat patients
  • Effectively evaluate and treat people with low risk for acute coronary syndrome (ACS), who make up the majority of potential heart attack patients
  • Ensure Chest Pain Center personnel competence and provide ongoing education
  • Continually improve hospital processes and procedures for care and outcomes
  • Provide community education and outreach about heart attack symptoms and the important actions to take to get medical care

Setting the Standard for Quality Care

In earning Chest Pain Center accreditation, the hospitals of Adventist HealthCare meet or exceed standards of quality for improving processes of care for people with acute coronary syndrome. It means we have the advanced technology and the medical expertise to handle your emergency.

You benefit from better hospital coordination with local EMS, prompt and effective care from diagnosis through your return home, shorter hospital stays with average door-to-balloon times in the top 25 percent nationwide, and more education about preventing and responding to ACS.

Know the Warning Signs of Heart Attack

Chest pain, a major symptom of heart attack, may be severe or mild and feel like:

  • A tight band around your chest
  • Bad indigestion
  • Something heavy sitting on your chest
  • Squeezing or heavy pressure

Typically, the pain lasts longer than 20 minutes. You may feel it in only one part of your body. Or it may move from your chest to your arms, shoulder, neck, jaw, teeth, belly or back. Although symptoms may go away and come back, rest and medication (nitroglycerin) don’t completely relieve this type of pain. Other symptoms that may indicate heart attack include:

  • Anxiety
  • Cough
  • Fainting
  • Dizziness or feeling lightheaded
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling like your heart is beating too fast (palpitations)
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sweating, which may be extreme

Some people—the elderly, those with diabetes, women—may experience a heart attack with symptoms such as shortness of breath, fatigue, weakness, but little or no chest pain. A "silent heart attack" can occur without any symptoms.

Learn more about heart attack in our online health library.

Questions for You and Your Doctor

During your examination for chest pain, you may be asked:

  • What are your symptoms?
  • When did you begin experiencing symptoms?
  • Have your symptoms become worse over time?
  • Where does your pain seem to start?
  • Does your pain radiate to other parts of your body?
  • What words would you use to describe your pain?
  • Are you having any trouble breathing?
  • Have you experienced nausea or vomiting?
  • Have you experienced dizziness or lightheadedness?
  • Does exercise or physical exertion make your symptoms worse?
  • Does anything else seem to make your pain worse?
  • Does anything seem to make your pain better?
  • Are you aware of any history of heart problems in your family?
  • Are you being treated or have you recently been treated for any other health conditions?
  • What medications are you currently taking, including vitamins and supplements?
  • Do you or did you smoke? How much?
  • Do you use alcohol or caffeine? How much?

Ask your doctor:

  • What’s the likely cause of my symptoms or condition?
  • Are there other possible causes?
  • What kinds of tests do I need?
  • Do I need to be hospitalized?
  • What treatments do I need right now?
  • Do these treatments have any risks?
  • What are the next steps in my diagnosis and treatment?
  • Do I need to follow any restrictions after returning home?
  • Should I see a specialist?

As you think of questions during your medical evaluation, be sure to ask your doctor.

Heart Attack Tests

You may need one or more of the following tests to help diagnose a heart attack:

  • Electrocardiogram (ECG or EKG) – Evaluates electrical activity of the heart
  • Blood test – Checks for increased levels of certain enzymes normally found in heart muscle; damage from heart attack may allow these enzymes to leak into your blood
  • Chest X-ray – Creates images of the chest showing heart, lungs, blood vessels, other organs and bones used to help assess internal problems that may cause chest pain
  • Stress tests – Measures your heart and blood vessels in response to exercise or exertion; may involve walking on a treadmill, pedaling a stationary bike or a medication that simulates heart rates during exercise; may be combined with an echocardiogram or nuclear scan
  • Echocardiogram – Optional procedure using sound waves to create a video image of your heart to help with diagnosis; may also be conducted using a nuclear scan
  • Angiogram (coronary catheterization) – Optional procedure that combines X-ray, video and a dye-filled catheter inserted into an artery or vein to assess blood flow and help detect narrowing or blockages

Non-Cardiac Causes of Chest Pain

Chest pain may not always signal a heart attack or be related to a heart problem. Instead, you may experience pain in your chest that results from:

  • Heartburn – Sensations of warmth, heat, burning or pain in the upper abdomen just below the breastbone; may occur after overeating or after eating fatty foods; isolated events typically treated with over-the-counter medications; frequent episodes may require treatment by a specialist in stomach and intestinal problems (gastroenterologist)
  • Anxiety or panic attack – Feelings of sudden or intense fear or anxiety that may make your heart pound or leave you breathless or dizzy; typically lasts from five to 20 minutes, but may extend up to a few hours
  • Sore muscles, injured ribs or pinched nerves – Activity-related sensations that improve with time and self-care measures recommended by your doctor

Trust Your Heart to Adventist HealthCare

Any experience of chest pain is important and should not be ignored. Get evaluated in the emergency department at the Adventist HealthCare hospitals in the greater Washington, DC metro area.

If our emergency department doctors determine you're out of immediate danger, you may be referred to your own doctor or to a specialist for additional evaluation.

Minutes Matter!

If you or a loved one experience chest pain, call 9-1-1 now. That's the fastest way to get lifesaving treatment at an Adventist HealthCare Accredited Chest Pain Center.

Signs of a Heart Attack

Three-Star rating for heart surgery by The Society of Thoracic Surgeons (STS)

Trusted Heart Care

Among the top 10% of hospitals nationwide to achieve a Three-Star rating, the highest rating for heart surgery.

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Heart & Vascular Care Locations

Adventist HealthCare heart and vascular care locations include:

Adventist HealthCare Washington Adventist Hospital
Takoma Park, MD
Adventist HealthCare Shady Grove Medical Center
Rockville, MD
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