Blood test rules out heart attack with 99% accuracy
There is a new and simple test that can accurately rule out a heart attack in patients admitted to the emergency room for chest pain.
In a large study conducted in Sweden, researchers confirmed that the blood test, combined with a standard electrocardiogram, correctly determined with 99 percent accuracy which patients with chest pain were not suffering a heart attack – and could therefore be sent home instead of keeping them in the hospital for observation and additional testing.
Among the almost 9,000 patients who had the test and were determined to not be having a heart attack, only 15 of them eventually did go on to suffer a heart attack within the following month, but not a single one resulted in death.
Study leader, Dr. Nadia Bandstein of the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, believes that the new blood test, when performed with the usual electrocardiogram, will cut down on the number of patients admitted to the hospital for chest pain by 20 to 25 percent.
The findings of the study are published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology and were presented at the cardiology organization’s annual conference last Sunday in Washington.
Each year, over 15 million patients are admitted to emergency rooms in America and Europe for chest pain. While most of the patients end up being diagnosed with indigestion or anxiety, instead of a heart attack, doctors try their best to make certain they don’t send a patient home prematurely.
Unfortunately, doctors sometimes mistakenly miss when a patient is having a heart attack around 2 percent of the time.
For this reason, some patients prefer being admitted to the hospital, where doctors can monitor them over time. However, the problem with this scenario is that it increases the risk of the patient picking up an infection, not to mention getting stuck with an expensive hospital bill for unnecessary tests and care not covered by health insurance.
For the study, researchers followed almost 15,000 patients who went to the Karolinska University hospital emergency room with chest pains over two years. Nearly 9000 of them had low scores after they were given the simple blood test, which quickly detects a substance called troponin that indicates heart damage.
While the test is not yet available in the U.S., Europe, Asia and Canada have been using it with success for around three years.
SOURCE: American College of Cardiology, News Release: Blood Test Helps Predict Heart Attack Risk for Patients with Chest Pain, March 30, 2014.