Experts have put together new guidelines that will ensure people of diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds get the help they need when experiencing chest pain. That includes acknowledging and addressing that, like women, Black people with chest pain have been less likely to be treated urgently.
Chest pain is about more than pain in the chest. But when it comes on suddenly, experts behind new guidelines on evaluating and diagnosing it don’t want you pondering nuances. They want you to act. Now.
The recommendations aim to help patients and health care professionals act faster, make smarter choices and communicate better about chest pain.
“If we’re not connecting with our patients in a way that they feel respected and that they feel listened to, we won’t be able to close the gaps in cardiovascular care, and specifically in addressing their chest pain,” Dr. Martha Gulati, president-elect of the American Society for Preventive Cardiology and chair of the writing committee for the guidelines published Thursday in the AHA journal Circulation says.
Why it is important to report your chest pain
Some people may not report chest “pain” but rather chest “discomfort,” which may include pressure or tightness in the chest but also in other areas, including the shoulders, arms, neck, back, upper abdomen or jaw.
The sudden onset of any of those symptoms could be a sign of reduced blood flow to the heart, Gulati adds.
Chest pain does not always mean a heart attack, which happens when blood supply to the heart is stopped, starving it of oxygen.
“The majority of chest pain is not life-threatening,” Gulati shares. “And in fact, the majority of chest pain is not cardiac.” It may instead be due to