Chest pain hotline off and running

With heart attacks, every second counts âÄî but telling the difference between heartburn and chest pain leaves patients in a quandary over whether to call 911. This was a problem for associate professor and University Medical Center, Fairview director of interventional cardiology, Dr. Gladwin Das. His solution was to launch a 24-hour chest pain hot line. âÄúAll of us who deal with heart attacks know that for every second there is a delay, a greater area of the heart gets damaged.âÄù Das said. Das said people are often hesitant to call 911 because theyâÄôre not sure if theyâÄôre having a heart attack. Now, they can call and ask for advice from four on-call nurses who specialize in cardiology, or to find out where the nearest hospital is. The hot lineâÄôs purpose is to target people who are simply unsure of what to do if they experience chest pain. Instead of having people wait and risk their lives, Das wants them to call. Since the launch, about 1,000 or possibly more calls have been received, Das said, and have come from across the metro area and from as far away as Rochester, Minn. Different age groups have called, though mostly older people, but the hot line has no targeted audience, Das said. Katie Oldeen , a chemistry senior looking to enter pharmacy school, said she thinks the hot line could be beneficial for women. âÄúThe hot line will be a great help for women who face rising numbers in heart diseases,âÄù she said. âÄúIt needs to be stressed, though, that it should not be used instead of 911.âÄù When officials launched the hot line in July, it came under criticism because people might be confused whether they should call the hot line or 911. Das said thatâÄôs not his intention. âÄúPeople that call in with acute chest pains are told immediately to put down the phone and call 911 by the nurses,âÄù Das said. âÄúThe hot line is another tool that people can use, but if they are having serious pain they should call the E.R.âÄù The American Heart Association stresses the importance of calling 911 right away on its website. According to the AHA, heart disease caused one in five of all deaths in America in 2005, making it the leading cause of death in the country.