More Stomach, Fewer Chest Complaints Seen in ERs

Use of advanced imaging for both has increased greatly
By Monica Smith
HealthDay Reporter

WEDNESDAY, Sept. 8 (HealthDay News) -- The percentage of non-injury visits to the emergency department for stomach pain has increased, while the percentage of chest pain-related visits has decreased, and use of advanced imaging for both has increased substantially, according to a September data brief released by the National Center for Health Statistics (NCHS).

Farida A. Bhuiya, of the NCHS in Hyattsville, Md., and colleagues analyzed data from the 1999 to 2008 National Hospital Ambulatory Medical Care Survey to track trends in emergency department visits for chest and abdominal pain, degree of illness, and use of imaging over that time period.

The researchers found that the total number of non-injury visits by adults with chest or abdominal pain increased from 1999 to 2008, but that the proportion of these with a serious diagnosis did not. Emergency department visits for chest pain resulting in a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome fell by 44.9 percent. Non-injury-related visits prompted by abdominal pain increased 31.8 percent, while those prompted by chest pain decreased 10 percent. Imaging use increased 122.6 percent for abdominal pain-prompted visits, and 367.6 percent for chest pain-prompted visits.

"Targeted research is needed to clarify the extent to which medical imaging for emergency department visits for chest or abdominal pain is improving the diagnosis and treatment of serious conditions," the authors write.

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