Written by Dr. Dave Hnida, CBS4 Medical EditorThe word is John Fox became light-headed and short of breath while on the golf course today– he then was taken to the ER for evaluation.

The information coming out at this point is all over the board, ranging from just fine to severe heart attack.

The most reliable info so far points to no actual heart attack, but more tests are needed to find out what happened. Plus we have no idea of the background of the event or any previous medical history.

Here’s what we typically do when someone comes into the ER with these kind of symptoms. And this is whether your health is great or not so great. (Coach Fox, btw, is reportedly a healthy guy.)

We quickly examine them. Check blood pressure and oxygen levels. Put them on oxygen. Attach a heart monitor to see what the heart rhythm is doing. We also stick in an IV in case we have to give emergency medicines quickly.

Then comes blood tests- all the way from blood counts to blood sugar to potassium levels. We also check heart enzymes or chemicals in the blood- They get released into the bloodstream when there has been damage to the heart muscle.

We also run an EKG to look for obvious signs of a heart attack. Yet, it’s important to remember an EKG is not always perfect, esp early on. A chest xray is typically done as well.

There are a lot of reasons people get lightheaded and short of breath– we first think big stuff first:  heart, lungs and brain (ie stroke) … and then move on to less life threatening problems.

So far, from what reliable information is being released is that the initial tests look good–which means you would assume the Coach’s EKG looks okay, and first set of heart blood tests are normal. But we tend to be cautious and repeat these blood tests  every few hours to see if there is any change.

Thats where the observation comes in — we typically hold people for hours to check things. We repeat blood tests. We repeat EKGs. Sometimes over a few hours. Sometimes overnight. We often go on to perform other tests such as ultrasound of the heart to look at heart valves.

So at this point- no clear diagnosis, and it would be wrong to speculate on what is really going on back East. But the clear message here is that Fox did the right thing– he had symptoms — and did not ignore them.

More to come.


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