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3 questions to ask when you have chest pains

Nobody wants to end up in the hospital emergency room with chest pains.

Unfortunately, it's hard to say what's scarier: hearing the doctor say that you're having a heart attack or some other serious issue or being told that your chest pain is nothing to worry about. If you know that something's wrong, you can at least seek treatment. If you're told that everything's okay, you may be sent home wondering if the doctor missed something critical -- something that could lead to your death if it goes untreated.

If you've been experiencing any pain that makes you wonder if there's something wrong with your heart, see your doctor immediately. Go in prepared with the following questions:

1. "Could my medication be causing this?"

If you are on any medications, ask if there is a possibility that your drugs are interacting badly and putting unnecessary strain on your heart. While you can't ignore the possibility that one of your long-term medications is the root of the problem, be especially concerned about problems with recently prescribed drugs, like antibiotics. Ask the doctor to review your medications for potential adverse interactions.

2. "What tests are you doing?"

Lab tests should always be part of an evaluation for chest pain. In specific, some experts recommend that you should ask about the following lab tests:

  • A coronary artery calcium scan, which can tell you if your arteries are starting to get blocked
  • A full lipid profile, which can be predictive of a heart attack
  • Lipoprotein a testing, which can indicate the risk of a stroke when elevated
  • An electrocardiogram, which takes little time or effort but can reveal cardiac arrhythmia and other serious issues with your heart
  • Inflammatory markers, which can indicate the presence of an infection that's stressing your heart

If these aren't being performed, find out why. If other tests are being done, ask what the doctor suspects or wants to rule out.

3. "Can a definitive test be done to rule out a heart problem?"

You may need a treadmill test, a repeat electrocardiogram or an angiogram of your heart to be certain that there's no cardiac involvement.

Many patients are shy about asking doctors questions or making demands. Don't be. Not only are you the one paying for the doctor's services, you're the one in danger. An emergency room error only has to happen once to be fatal.

Source: Food Babe, "Advice from a Cardiologist: Critical Questions To Ask In The Emergency Room," accessed March 14, 2018

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