A new blood test may predict whether your chest pain will turn into a heart attack, reveals a new study. This highly sensitive blood test can safely rule out heart attacks in close to two-thirds of patients who are evaluated in the emergency department (ED) with chest pain.
According to the study published in The Lancet the judicious use of this blood test-known as cardiac troponin I-could help to safely discharge more patients who would normally be admitted for extensive cardiac evaluations, ultimately leading to significant cost savings in the UK.
"Until now there were no quick ways to rule out a heart attack within the emergency department. We have identified a cardiac troponin concentration (less than 5 nanograms per liter, <5 ng/L) below which patients are at very low risk of heart attack either during the admission or in the ensuing 30 days," said Dr. Anoop Shah, lead author, from the University of Edinburgh in the UK.
"Over the last two decades the number of hospital admissions due to chest pain has tripled. The overwhelming majority of these patients do not have a heart attack," Shah emphasized.
Chest pain is one of the most common reasons requiring hospitalization and nearly 1 million persons in the UK annually make a visit to the emergency department for chest pain.
Determining the cause of chest pain has traditionally required lengthy rule-out protocols checking serial blood tests (cardiac troponins) and cardiac monitoring, followed by a provocative stress test or some form of nuclear imaging before discharge to assess blood flow to the heart muscle through the coronary arteries.
The new blood test is a more sensitive troponin assay compared to standard versions currently in use, with the advantage of being able to detect significantly lower levels of troponin in the blood. Troponins are proteins released from heart muscle in the setting of reduced blood flow, culminating in a heart attack.