Ask the doctor: If I am feeling chest pain, should I call 911?

Ask the doctor

If I am feeling chest pain, should I call 911?

Published: March, 2014

Q. I am a 73-year-old male. I've been diabetic for 50 years, and had a quintuple bypass eight years ago. I try to get an hour of exercise on a treadmill each day. While working out a couple of days ago, I developed a sudden sharp pain on my left side at about chest level, toward my back. Naturally I stopped, but I wondered when a person like me should call 911.

A. Pain in the chest always deserves special attention, especially in someone like you who has coronary artery disease (atherosclerosis of the heart's arteries). Pain from coronary artery disease is felt as heaviness, or a squeezing, pressing or burning sensation, in the middle of your chest, under the breastbone. In many cases, the sensation spreads to either or both shoulders, arms, neck, back, or jaw. You may also feel it high in the abdomen, just below the chest.

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