Background: Chest pain is one of the most common reasons for emergency department visits and hospital admissions. Chest pain units (CPU) are being incorporated in tertiary hospitals for rapid and effective management of patients with chest pain. In Israel prior to 2010, only one chest pain unit existed in a tertiary hospital.
Objectives: To report our first year experience with a CPU located in an internal medicine department as compared to the year before establishment of the CPU.
Methods: We retrospectively evaluated the medical records of consecutive patients who were admitted to our internal medicine department for the investigation of chest pain for 2 different years: a year before and a year after the establishment of the CPU in the department. We focused on the patients' characteristics and the impact of the CPU regarding the investigational modalities used and the length of in-hospital stay.
Results: In the year before establishment of the CPU, 258 patients were admitted to our department with chest pain, compared to 417 patients admitted to the CPU in the first year of its operation. All patients were followed for serial electrocardiographic and cardiac enzyme testing. All CPU patients (100%) underwent investigation compared to only 171 patients (66%) in the pre-CPU year. During the year pre-CPU, 164 non-invasive tests were performed (0.64 tests per patient) compared to 506 tests (1.2 tests/patient) in the CPU population. Coronary arteriography was performed in 35 patients (14%) during the pre-CPU year, mostly as the first test performed, compared to 61 patients (15%) during the CPU year, mostly as a second test, with only 5 procedures (1.1%) being the first test performed. The length of hospitalization was significantly shorter during the CPU year, 37.8 ± 29.4 hours compared to 66.8 ± 46 hours in the pre-CPU year.
Conclusions: Establishment of a CPU in an internal medicine department significantly decreased the need for invasive coronary arteriography as the first modality for investigating patients admitted with chest pain, significantly decreased the need for invasive procedures (especially where no intervention was performed), and significantly shortened the hospitalization period. CPU is an effective facility for rapid and effective investigation of patients admitted with chest pain.