Chest pain emergency units


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Abstract

Each year in the United States, more than 2 million patients are hospitalized with chest pain suggestive of myocardial ischemia, with fewer than 20% of these patients having an acute coronary event. Chest pain emergency units have been created to facilitate urgent therapy for patients with a serious cardiovascular event and to triage lower risk patients to less intensive, more cost-effective inpatient care or discharge to home. The clinical history, physical examination, and initial electrocardiogram are key to initial stratification of patients for further management, but additional methods are necessary to clearly distinguish patients with inconclusive findings at presentation as high-and low-risk. Innovative electrocardiographic methods have increased sensitivity for detecting myocardial ischemia. Accelerated diagnostic protocols with new cardiac serum markers can detect myocardial ischemia or infarction with increasing accuracy. Early echocardiographic, scintigraphic, and treadmill stress protocols can further evaluate patients who have nondiagnostic electrocardiograms and negative serum markers. This review presents the current status of chest pain emergency units and the evolving management strategies they encompass.

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