Chest Pain Center

The Critical Decision Treatment Unit (CDTU) is the entry point to cardiac services for patients that come through the Emergency Department. The unit helps narrow down the initial diagnosis for patients experiencing heart issues

man in plaid shirt clutching his chest while seated

In the event of chest pain or acute MI (heart attack), the patient is transferred to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab for further tests.

Know the Warnings. Know What to Do.

A heart attack may cause various types of discomfort that is not generally perceived as "pain" and is not necessarily in the chest. The discomfort may:

  • Feel like indigestion
  • Be felt in the chest, the inner arm (especially the left arm), the jaw or teeth, or other parts of the body
  • Get worse with activity and subside with rest
  • May not be in a specific spot
  • Come and go, and increase over time - each new pain recurs sooner, lasts longer and feels worse
  • Be accompanied by sweating, shortness of breath or flu-like symptoms

What should I do if I, or someone I care about, is having some of these symptoms?

Go straight to your nearest hospital ER. In Brown County, immediate care can best be obtained by calling 911. Whatever you do, don’t waste valuable time. At the Green Bay Chest Pain Center, located in the ERs of HSHS St. Vincent Hospital and HSHS St. Mary’s Hospital, a doctor and other specialists will examine you. They will determine if your symptoms are signs of an early heart attack. The hospitals have advanced testing capabilities and state of the art treatments readily available.

What will happen to me at the hospital or chest pain center?

Doctors can diagnose your symptoms within a few hours, if not sooner. They may ask you about your medical and family history, and your life style. They will monitor your heart at rest and with activity. They can also look for telltale signs of a heart attack in samples of your blood.

Depending on the initial findings you may:

  • begin receiving life saving treatment right away
  • in consultation with your primary care physician or cardiologist, be transferred to a dedicated observation area for further evaluation
  • or, be admitted to the hospital for further treatment

Do this right away. Don’t wait.

A delay of even a few hours, could literally make the difference between life and death, or the difference between no heart damage and severe heart damage.

Why is it important to be seen quickly?

Doctors and nurses can give you life-saving medicines called "thrombolytic drugs" that can break up blood clots and stabilize arteries. This restores the flow of oxygen and nutrients needed to return the heart to good working order. These drugs are effective only if you receive them within the first hours of a heart attack - or better still, before the arteries have become totally clogged.

Who should be concerned about heart attacks and early heart attack symptoms?

There is no "typical" heart attack victim. Women experience nearly the same number of heart attacks as men. People as young as 20 years old have heart attacks - even highly conditioned athletes in their prime. Sadly, some people have no idea that they are at risk for a heart attack until it strikes.

Some people have "risk factors" that make them more likely candidates for heart attack. These include high-fat diets, obesity, lack of exercise, smoking, diabetes, hypertension, and a family history of heart disease.

But remember, the most important risk factor is the presence of any early heart attack symptoms. In fact, it is the only risk factor that you can do something about right away and have a direct impact on whether you will have a serious heart attack.

Be Persistent

Many people experiencing early heart attack symptoms don’t want to go to the hospital. What’s worse, other well-meaning but misinformed people may agree that, "It’s probably nothing," in a mistaken attempt to be reassuring.