Emergency department visits for chest pain and abdominal pain: United States, 1999-2008

NCHS Data Brief. 2010 Sep:(43):1-8.


The number of noninjury emergency department (ED) visits in which abdominal pain was the primary reason for the visit increased 31.8%. The percentage of ED visits for which chest pain was the primary reason decreased 10.0%. Use of advanced medical imaging increased strongly for ED visits related to abdominal pain (122.6%) and chest pain (367.6%). The percentage of ED visits for chest pain that resulted in a diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome decreased 44.9%. Chest and abdominal pain are the most common reasons that persons aged 15 years and over visit the emergency department (ED). Because EDs provide both emergency and nonemergency care, visits for these symptoms may vary in their acuity. Advanced medical imaging is often ordered to assist in both diagnosing and ruling out serious illness associated with these symptoms. This report describes trends in visits for chest and abdominal pain in adults and the seriousness of illness and use of imaging in these visits. All data shown are for persons aged 18 and over whose visit was not injury related.

MeSH terms

  • Abdominal Pain / epidemiology*
  • Abdominal Pain / therapy*
  • Ambulances / statistics & numerical data
  • Chest Pain / epidemiology*
  • Chest Pain / therapy*
  • Diagnostic Imaging
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / trends
  • Humans
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Triage / statistics & numerical data
  • Triage / trends
  • United States / epidemiology