Advanced Emergency Heart Care | UnityPoint Health - Des Moines

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Mother and Daughter spending time together

Emergency Cardiac Services

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

Life-Saving Steps for a Cardiac Emergency

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.



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.

Chest Pain Accredited

Iowa Methodist Medical Center & Iowa Lutheran have full accreditation with PCI from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC)

An Accredited Chest Pain Center's evidence-based, protocol-driven and systematic approach to cardiac patient care allows clinicians to reduce time to treatment during the critical early stages of a heart attack. 

Chest Pain Centers better monitor patients when it is not clear whether or not a patient is having a coronary event. Such monitoring ensures patients are neither sent home too early nor needlessly admitted.

By achieving SCPC's Chest Pain Center Accreditation status, Iowa Methodist Medical Center and Iowa Lutheran Hospital demonstrated expertise in the following areas:

  • Integrating the emergency department with the local emergency medical system
  • Assessing, diagnosing, and treating patients quickly
  • Effectively treating patients with low risk for acute coronary syndrome and no assignable cause for their symptoms
  • Continually seeking to improve processes and procedures
  • Ensuring the competence and training of Accredited Chest Pain Center personnel
  • Maintaining organizational structure and commitment
  • Having a functional design that promotes optimal patient care
  • Supporting community outreach programs that educate the public to promptly seek medical care if they display symptoms of a possible heart attack