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Alicia Sands Lurry, 404-616-6389,
October12, 2001


Chest Pain Center at Grady Memorial Hospital Helps Save Time and Lives When Diagnosing Heart Attacks

Getting medical attention for someone who is having a heart attack is a matter of life or death. And getting them to the hospital in time for proper treatment is often the deciding factor.

That is where the Chest Pain Center at Grady Memorial Hospital can help. The center, open since November 1997, is the only of its kind in metro Atlanta, and is specifically designed to evaluate patients with chest pain and possible heart attacks (also called acute coronary syndromes) and to decrease the number of patient visits to the hospital. Staffed by Emory physicians, the center evaluates cardiac function with a series of tests and procedures to accurately diagnose whether a person has had - or is having - a heart attack, which is often characterized by a constant pressure or crushing of the chest, nausea, sweating and vomiting. A person is at risk for a heart attack if he or she has diabetes, high blood pressure or has had a prior heart attack. However, a person may have a heart attack without having any of these known risk factors.

"Our center allows physicians to do a thorough evaluation of people who are at low to moderate risk of having a heart attack, and allows for effective cost savings," said Vernada Karriem-Norwood, M.D., director of the Chest Pain Center, attending physician in Grady's Emergency Department, and assistant professor with the Emory School of Medicine.

Once a patient is admitted into the Chest Pain Center at Grady, the entire process generally takes less than 24 hours. Electrocardiograms are done every three hours over a nine-hour period to include blood work and cardiac enzymes. Rounding out the process is a battery of risk-stratifying tests that includes a myocardial infarction study (also known as Sestimibi, or nuclear medicine test), involving the injection of radioisotope that will show if blood flow in the heart is normal. If the test is abnormal, the patient is then admitted to the hospital for further evaluation and testing. The Chest Pain Center comprises six beds and full monitoring capabilities.


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