If you have chest pain that is new, severe, prolonged or causing concern, call 995 for an ambulance immediately. The ambulances are prepared to respond rapidly, and they will take you to the nearest hospital. For someone having a heart attack, every minute is important. Remember, the faster you get to a hospital, the sooner you can receive treatment.
In the hospital, your doctor will run tests such as:
- Electrocardiogram (ECG)
An ECG is critical in diagnosing a heart attack. The ECG pattern can indicate the type of heart attack, as well as the presence of any dangerous heart rhythm (arrhythmia) caused by the heart attack.
- Blood tests
Samples of your blood may be analysed for certain heart-specific proteins or enzymes that indicate damage to the heart muscle during the heart attack.
- Coronary Angiogram
A coronary angiogram is a minimally invasive procedure where a catheter is placed through a small incision at your wrist or groin vessel to reach the opening of the coronary artery. Following injection of contrast dye through the catheter under live X-ray, the location and severity of coronary blockages are immediately determined.
A coronary angiogram is vital in the diagnosis and treatment of a heart attack due to coronary artery blockages. Depending on the ECG pattern, the coronary angiogram is done either immediately as an emergency (for STEMI), or as early as possible within the next few days (for NSTEMI).
Following the coronary angiogram, coronary angioplasty, or percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) is usually done to open the blocked arteries and restore normal blood flow. This treatment is vital especially for STEMI to limit the extent of heart muscle damage and can potentially save your life.
The doctor may carry out further tests to get a better understanding of your condition, such as:
- Chest X-ray
- Cardiac CT or MRI