A clinical trial funded by the University of Edinburgh has found a method whereby a simple blood test could determine the risk of heart attack. The researchers estimate the high sensitivity blood test could rule out a heart attack in two thirds of people arriving at A&E with chest pain.
Publishing in The Lancet, the trial involved over 6,000 people at four Scottish and US hospitals with chest pain. The blood test measured levels of troponin, a protein released from the heart during a heart attack.
While one million people visit A&E with chest pain every year, only 188,000 of them are heart attacks. It is believed a test like this will mean that those most at risk will receive the most effective treatment quicker.
This research builds on previous analysis from the same test, where it was shown that it could double diagnosis rates of heart attacks in women.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director of the British Heart Foundation, said: “A faster, more accurate diagnosis of whether chest pain is caused by a heart attack would be better for patients and save the NHS money. We want to ensure no heart attack diagnosis is missed but we equally don’t want to see people go through unnecessary tests and spend extended periods in hospital unless it is essential.
“No-one wants to be in hospital unless they have to be. What’s important about this study is that the evidence shows you can quickly and confidently rule out a heart attack without compromising patient safety.”
Dr Atul Atand, a researcher on the study and physician at the Edinburgh Infirmary, told the BBC: “It’s really exciting. When you look at patients who come to medical wards with chest pain, 80% are going home 12 hours later. This avoids the hassle, cost and patient, stress.”