Should I Go to the ER or Cardiologist?

Arkansas Heart Hospital ER

When deciding whether to go to an emergency room (ER) or make an appointment with your primary care doctor or cardiologist, it is important to consider the symptoms you are experiencing and the severity of them. Dr. Vijay Raja, interventional cardiologist, explains.

When to go the ER

“If you’re having any symptoms that are out of the ordinary or brand new, debilitating or just scary, that’s what an emergency room is perfect for. That’s why Arkansas Heart Hospital is open 24/7 and available,” says Dr. Raja.

Debilitating symptoms may be chest pain, shortness of breath, or fainting, which can be signs of a heart attack. You seek medical attention by calling 911 or visiting your nearest ER right away.

Symptoms of a heart attack:

  • Severe or persistent pain – If you’re experiencing severe, persistent, or new and unexplained chest pain that doesn’t go away with medication, rest, or over-the-counter medication, seek emergency medical attention. This may feel like a crushing or searing pain that radiates to your arms, neck, jaws or back.
  • Shortness of breath – Unexplained difficulty breathing or feeling like you can’t catch your breath, could be a sign of a heart or lung condition. Go to the ER instead of waiting to make an appointment with a cardiologist.
  • Dizziness or fainting – If you’re experiencing if you’re feeling dizzy, lightheaded or faint, this could be a sign of a cardiac event. Seek medical attention as soon as possible.

When to make an appointment with a doctor

What if you are not experiencing these severe symptoms? It’s better to make an appointment with your primary care doctor or cardiologist for further testing and evaluation rather than going to the ER.

“For things that are progressive and are not doing as well as they were a week ago, a month ago, six months ago, that’s when your primary care doctor and cardiologist are there to get testing and rule out certain things,” Dr. Raja says. “That’s what we do for a lot of patients – give them that peace of mind that it is or not their heart.”

A benefit of making an appointment with a doctor if they know your health history, what medications you are taking and what chronic conditions might need to be considered in your treatment. Plus, the co-pay for a visit to your doctor’s office will cost far less than a trip to the emergency room. This option can also help you avoid the long wait times typically found in an emergency room.

Even if you are not experiencing any major symptoms, it is always a good idea to make an appointment with your doctor, who will do a physical exam and review your medical history to determine if you should be referred to a cardiologist for further testing and treatment.

Sudden cardiac arrest can happen anywhere, anytime to anyone, often without warning. That’s why it’s vital to know how to use an AED. Arkansas Heart Hospital walks you through the steps.

Determine your risk for cardiovascular disease and take action today by talking with one of our cardiologists or your primary care physician.