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Emergency Care

If you have chest pain, you should seek immediate medical care.

Cardiac Alert

UnityPoint Health - Des Moines - along with Emergency Medical Services (EMS) squads in Des Moines, West Des Moines, Altoona, and Ankeny - uses life-saving steps we call "Cardiac Alert."

In a cardiac emergency, receiving fast treatment means saving more precious heart muscle, increasing your chances for survival. If an EMS paramedic determines that a severe heart attack is occurring, Cardiac Alert helps coordinate all of the healthcare experts needed from the ambulance to the Emergency Department to the cardiac catheterization lab for the patient's complete care, saving precious seconds to diagnose and treat these life-threatening heart conditions.

Our experienced, board-certified emergency physicians trained in heart disease and diseases of the circulatory system are available 24 hours a day with the most up-to-date technology supporting them. With immediate access to surgical services, cardiac catheterization laboratories and many diagnostic services, both Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Iowa Lutheran Hospital provide patients with the very best in emergency cardiac care.

Warning Signs of a Heart Attack

Fast care is crucial! If you have any heart attack symptoms or warning signs of stroke that last more than a few minutes, don't delay!

  • Chest discomfort. This can be discomfort in the center of the chest lasting more than a few minutes, or it may go away and return. It can feel like a pain, pressure, squeezing or fullness.
  • Discomfort or pain in other parts of your upper body, including one or both arms, your back, neck, jaw or stomach. 
  • Nausea, light-headedness or a feeling of stomach indigestion (cramping).
  • Breaking out in a cold sweat.
  • Shortness of breath. This feeling often accompanies chest discomfort but can occur beforehand.

As with men, women's most common heart attack symptom is chest pain or discomfort. But women are somewhat more likely than men to experience some of the other common symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.

NOT ALL OF THESE SIGNS INDICATE A HEART ATTACK.

IF YOU HAVE ONE OR MORE OF THESE WARNING SIGNS, DON'T WAIT LONGER THAN 5 MINUTES BEFORE CALLING FOR HELP.

Warning Signs of a Stroke

Know these warning signs of stroke and teach them to others. Every second counts:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness of the face, arm or leg, especially on one side of the body
  • Sudden confusion, trouble speaking or understanding
  • Sudden trouble seeing in one or both eyes
  • Sudden trouble walking, dizziness, loss of balance or coordination
  • Sudden, severe headache with no known cause

Call 911 right away so an ambulance with advanced life support equipment can be sent.