Heart attack care in Denver

Led by our experienced cardiothoracic surgeons, HealthONE's heart care programs include personalized, high-quality emergency treatment for heart attack patients. This means our heart care teams partner with emergency medical services (EMS) in Denver, allowing high-quality care to begin before the patient even arrives at the hospital.

If you think you are experiencing a heart attack, call 911.

What happens during a heart attack

During a heart attack, your heart is not getting the blood it needs. The longer you wait to get these symptoms addressed, and therefore start treatment, the longer your heart muscle remains in distress to cause further damage. This is why our chest pain centers, such as the one at Rose Medical Center and the one at Sky Ridge Medical Center, have been set up to deliver expert heart care quickly and effectively. They have a process in place to make sure every step in the treatment process gets done in a timely manner.

What to do if you think you are having a heart attack

A heart attack is a medical emergency. If you are worried you are experiencing a heart attack, call 911.

Many people delay getting medical attention when they are having a heart attack. In fact, the average patient does not get to the emergency room (ER) until more than two hours after the onset of symptoms. Waiting is a mistake—the sooner a heart attack is diagnosed and treated, the less damage is caused to the heart.

Pre-heart attack care

Early heart attack care (EHAC) education promotes awareness that heart attacks have “beginnings.” Unfortunately, when these early signs are ignored, we miss a window of opportunity to prevent the attack before any heart damage can occur. The early signs and symptoms of a heart attack below could occur days or weeks before the actual event, so if you experience them, seek treatment right away:

  • A feeling of impending doom
  • Anxiety
  • Chest discomfort with lightheadedness, fainting, sweating, nausea or shortness of breath
  • Chest pain, pressure or squeezing
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling of fullness
  • Heartburn
  • Nausea
  • Pain in one or both arms
  • Pain spreading to the shoulders, neck or arms
  • Shortness of breath without exertion
  • Uncomfortable pressure, fullness, squeezing or pain in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes

Diagnosing heart disease

The sooner coronary artery (heart) disease is recognized and treated, the less likely it is a heart attack will occur. Quick diagnosis and treatment is therefore critical in identifying a person’s risk factors for cardiovascular disease.

To help with this, our hospitals use heart imaging and tests that include interventional cardiology—a specialty of cardiology involving catheter-based tests and treatments. These are typically performed in a catheterization laboratory or "cath lab." Cardiac catheterization tests can identify diseases of the heart muscle, valves or coronary arteries.

Heart attack signs and symptoms

Every year, more than 800,000 people in the U.S. have a heart attack. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a heart attack can reduce this number, but it is not easy. Heart attack symptoms often are subtle. They may include one or more of the following:

  • Anxiety
  • Chest pressure or discomfort
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea
  • Pain in the back or jaw
  • Pain that travels down one or both arms
  • Shortness of breath

Atypical symptoms

  • Cold sweats
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Discomfort in areas of the body other than the chest
  • Dizziness
  • Extreme or unexplained weakness or anxiety
  • Indigestion or choking feeling
  • Increased and/or irregular heart rate
  • Increased fatigue/tiredness
  • Interscapular (between the shoulder blades) pain
  • Jaw pain and/or toothaches
  • Palpitations or paleness
  • The need to belch
  • Wrist pain

Heart attack signs and symptoms specific to women

  • Breaking out in a cold sweat
  • Fullness or pain in the center of the chest that lasts a few moments, goes away and then returns
  • Lightheadedness
  • Loss or shortness of breath, not necessarily accompanied by chest discomfort
  • Nausea, vomiting, headaches, cold sweats and other flu-like symptoms
  • Pain or discomfort in the back, neck, jaw or stomach
  • Pressure or squeezing
  • Unusual fatigue, body aches or weakness
  • Unexplained anxiety or unease
Quick responses can save lives. If you notice one or more heart attack symptoms, immediately call 911.