According to researchers a blood test can accurately identify patients at very low risk for heart attack,. Almost two-thirds of people who arrive in an emergency room complaining of chest pain and fearing cardiac arrest might be discharged safely say the results of a new study.
“Implementation of this approach would reduce avoidable hospital admission and have major benefits for both patients and health-care providers,” wrote the authors sponsored by University of Edinburgh which was also sponsored by the British Heart Foundation.
When patients complain of chest pain, doctors make a diagnosis of a heart attack based on the evidence of muscle damage in the heart. Specifically, they use a blood test that measures a protein known as troponin, which is released into the blood by the damaged heart muscles. A high troponin level or even slight elevation can indicate injury to the heart, according to the American Association for Clinical Chemistry.
Recently, a more sensitive troponin test, which is capable of measuring finer levels of troponin, was introduced.
Most importantly this new test only needs to be performed once. The new study, then, investigated whether the more sensitive test might more accurately diagnose and predict heart attacks. Conducting the research at hospitals in Scotland and the United States, the science team measured blood troponin concentrations using the high-sensitivity test for 6,304 patients with suspected heart attacks.
“Low plasma troponin concentrations identify two-thirds of patients at very low risk of cardiac events who could be discharged from hospital,” said the researchers, who say the high sensitivity test was 99.6 percent accurate.
Symptoms of a heart attack include chest discomfort or pain that often feel like squeezing, upper body pain, stomach pain, shortness of breath, anxiety, light-headedness, sweating, and nausea and vomiting. According to the American Heart Association, women most commonly experience chest pain or discomfort just like men, but they are more likely than men to experience other symptoms, particularly shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting, and back or jaw pain.