Gaining Chest Pain Center accreditation

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The Chicago Heights and Olympia Fields campuses of Franciscan St. James Health are distinguished in the Chicago Southland for having earned Certified Chest Pain Center (CPC) accreditation.

Awarded by the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care, this designation ensures that Franciscan St. James has met strict criteria designed to reduce the time between the onset of symptoms to diagnosis and treatment.

This accreditation means that Franciscan St. James has achieved a higher level of expertise in treating patients who arrive with heart attack symptoms.

“The CPC designation is your assurance that Franciscan St. James meets or exceeds rigorous evaluation standards for assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients who may be experiencing a heart attack,” said Franciscan St. James Cardiovascular Services medical director, Dr. Srinivas Reddy.

The CPC accreditation process required the hospital to take a critical look at the protocols it initiates when a patient is admitted to the hospital or emergency room with chest pain. Starting in the mid-2000s, Franciscan St. James took steps to improve its efficiency in treating these patients. As a CPC, the hospital’s “door-to-balloon time” continues to shorten, and its staff critically analyzes every case looking for ways to improve.

Studies have shown that when a hospital has protocols in place, less is missed. At Franciscan St. James, patient care follows the best practice guidelines set by the American College of Cardiology and the American Heart Association.

“Our status as a Chest Pain Center involves delivering appropriate, timely care that we analyze on a constant basis in search of improvement,” Dr. Reddy explained.

Patient education is a key component of the CPC accreditation process.

“People need to be aware of the symptoms,” Dr. Reddy said. “Those symptoms include chest pain or pressure, shortness of breath both with and without sweatiness, and, particularly in women, pain in the elbow, jaw or back and nausea or vomiting. Some women ignore their symptoms, but the reality is, coronary artery disease, not breast cancer, is the No. 1 killer of women.”

At the first sign that you may be having a heart attack, it’s imperative that you seek treatment. Don’t second-guess or go to the Internet to try to figure out what’s happening. Let a doctor and trained medical staff make that determination.

Know your risk factors, which include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, a family history of early heart disease (under age 60), or a history of smoking. And remember, “time is muscle”; the faster you are seen and assessed, the more heart muscle may be saved.

Provided by Franciscan St. James Health