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Chest Pain Center

Chest Pain AccreditationIf you or someone you love is brought to the Rex Chest Pain Center for treatment, you can expect expertise, immediate attention and excellence in care from our team of cardiology experts. Our cardiologists are leaders in diagnosing and treating acute coronary syndromes and heart failure. Should you require surgery, trust your heart to the expert surgeons at REX Heart and Vascular Specialists.

When you suffer a heart attack, it’s important to act quickly. Make sure you’re prepared by learning the signs and symptoms of a heart attack and finding out if you’re at risk.

Nationally Recognized Chest Pain Center

UNC REX has cared for more Wake County hearts than any other hospital. You can trust your care to our skilled cardiac professionals because:

  • We were the first hospital in the Triangle to be designated as an Accredited Chest Pain Center by The Society of Cardiovascular Patient Care. This accreditation not only recognizes our full-spectrum emergency cardiac care program but also our community education programs and expertise in diagnosing and treating acute coronary syndromes and heart failure.
  • We've received the enhanced Percutaneous Coronary Interventions (PCI) Designation for demonstrating quality cardiac care and quick response time.
  • UNC REX is a leader in cardiology in Wake County, receiving above average ratings for heart attack survival from Hospital Compare.

What Happens When I Come to the REX Chest Pain Center?

At the REX Chest Pain Center we meet and exceed the national standards of excellent care team. Our team is trained to quickly and effectively diagnose and treat a heart attack. Patients showing signs of a heart attack can expect:

  • Staff is notified immediately – If you are brought into the REX Chest Pain Center via ambulance, Wake County EMS will have already notified the Chest Pain Center of your expected arrival and condition, including your symptoms and EKG results. If you arrive on your own, a greeter will notify the triage nurse who will take you for an EKG within 10 minutes of arrival.
  • Course of action is determined – You will be taken to a bed and closely monitored. If further testing is needed, your physician will receive and evaluate those test results within 25 minutes.
  • If you are having a heart attack - If your EKG test shows you are having a heart attack, you will be taken to the Cardiac Catheterization Lab for a procedure to clear blocked vessels. This will occur within 90 minutes or less of your arrival. If needed, your physician may also decide to begin induced therapeutic hypothermia.
  • If you are not having a heart attack – If your EKG test shows that you are not having a heart attack and further testing shows the same, you will be given a bed where you are closely monitored for six hours. Testing is repeated before a heart attack is ruled out. A physician will make recommendations for further testing, such as a stress test which can be performed onsite before discharge, or additional follow up with your physician.

We know that experiencing a heart attack is scary and it’s important to have the support of your friends or family. That’s why we’ve made accommodations for a friend or family member to be with you at all times.

Induced Therapeutic Hypothermia

UNC REX Hospital is one of several hospitals throughout the country that has begun to use therapeutic hypothermia as an intervention to protect brain function in heart attack patients.

How is therapeutic hypothermia performed?

Once the patient has been stabilized by Emergency Department team members, they’ll be placed on a breathing machine (ventilator) and the cooling process will begin. The patient’s body temperature will be lowered and maintained between 89.6 degrees Fahrenheit and 93.2 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours. After 24 hours, the rewarming phase begins and last eight hours. The patient is then kept at 96.8 degrees Fahrenheit for 24 hours to complete the therapy.

The patient will be closely monitored by an interdisciplinary medical team throughout the entire process. They may feel cold to the touch, but will be on special medication for comfort.

Additional Resources


  • HeartAware - A free, seven-minute online risk assessment that could save your life.
  • Community Heart and Vascular Screenings – We offer 10 simple, painless, high-quality screenings at an affordable cost.
  • REX Wellness Centers - Offering comprehensive prevention and wellness classes and programs in nutrition, weight management and relaxation that can help you accomplish positive, healthy goals.
  • Diabetes Education - Learn about controlling diabetes, a key in managing your risk for heart disease.


  • REX Cardiac Rehabilitation - A medically supervised program designed to help patients with heart disease recover more quickly and return to full and productive lives.
  • REX Wellness Centers - Offering programs to help you return to and maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Mended Hearts - Affiliated with the American Heart Association, Mended Hearts is a nationally driven informational and educational support group for our patients and their loved ones

Call 911

If you or a loved one is experiencing signs of a heart attack or stroke, call 911 immediately.

Are you at risk for Heart Disease?

Take a quick assessment.

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