Matters of the heart: Heart Attacks Don’t Care, But We Do

Haywood Regional Earns Chest Pain Center Accreditation
Feb 08, 2017
Photo by: Donated photo David Peterson, Cardiologist, Western Carolina Cardiology.

Heart attacks can happen anytime, anyplace — and to anyone. And when they do, every minute matters.  After roughly a year of rigorous training and preparation, Haywood Regional Medical Center (HRMC) is better equipped than ever to offer life-saving care when and where you need it.

In November 2016, HRMC earned Chest Pain Center Accreditation from the Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care (SCPC), the accrediting arm of the American College of Cardiology. This designation underscores the hospital’s commitment to providing high-quality emergency heart care close to home. To earn this designation, HRMC worked closely with key community partners and the SCPC to enhance coordination among everyone involved in a patient’s care – from first responders to the hospital emergency department team, critical care staff to cardiac rehab.

As an accredited Chest Pain Center, HRMC has committed to a higher standard of care for emergency cardiac services, continual quality improvement in heart care, and providing the community education and resources to help keep hearts healthy.

The Warning Signs of Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States, responsible for one in four deaths, according to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC). But it doesn’t have to be. Through education and early treatment, heart disease can be successfully treated and, in many cases, even prevented.

“People tend to wait when they think they might be having a heart attack, and that’s a mistake,” said David Peterson, Cardiologist, Western Carolina Cardiology.  “The average patient arrives in the emergency department more than two hours after the onset of symptoms, but what they don’t realize is that the sooner a heart attack is treated, the less damage to the heart and the better the outcome for the patient.”

Protect yourself and your loved ones by knowing the warning signs and symptoms people may experience before a heart attack:

  • Chest pain or discomfort
  • Upper body pain or discomfort in the arms, back, neck, jaw, or upper stomach
  • Shortness of breath
  • Nausea, lightheadedness, or cold sweats

While these are the primary signs of heart attack in adults, women can often experience fewer commons signs and symptoms, such as:

  • Sharp, burning chest pain
  • Fluttering in the chest (also known as arrhythmia)
  • Pain in the neck, jaw, abdomen or throat
  • Upper back pain
  • Indigestion or heartburn
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Upper body discomfort
  • Shortness of breath
  • Swelling of the feet, ankles, legs or abdomen

The good news is that everyone can lower the risk of heart disease by knowing these early signs of heart attack and practicing good preventive habits, including exercising regularly, eating a nutritious diet, avoiding smoking, and controlling your blood pressure.

If you or someone you know experiences symptoms of a heart attack, contact 911 immediately or proceed to the nearest emergency room or Accredited Chest Pain Center.

Follow us on social media for 28 days of heart health and education, or by visiting for daily updates. To learn more about our Chest Pain Accreditation, visit us at, or call 828.452.7311.

Haywood Regional Medical Center, a Duke LifePoint Hospital, is located in Haywood County and offers a comprehensive array of services, including orthopedics, spine services, cardiology, general surgery, women's care, emergency medicine, behavioral health, and includes 12 multi-specialty physician clinics. The campus, located in Clyde, is also home to the 54,000 square foot Haywood Regional Health and Fitness Center, the 44,000 square foot Haywood Regional Outpatient Care Center (includes the outpatient surgery center, laboratory, imaging center including women's imaging and physician practices) and nearby, The Homestead, an inpatient hospice facility. Haywood Regional Medical Center also operates two urgent care centers in the county, in Waynesville and Canton.  For more information, visit