Rapid test to confirm a heart attack
If you suspected you were having a heart attack would you want to be spared a long and anxious wait in hospital? I should say so. Well, a new blood test for heart attacks, which takes just 15 minutes to work, could do just that.
Only around 10% of the more than a million people who go to A&E departments in Britain each year complaining of chest pain have actually had a heart attack. But to give patients the all-clear often requires a battery of tests and, in some cases, they may even need to stay in overnight.
Currently, all victims of suspected heart attacks are given an ECG and a blood test to detect heart damage. This test must be carried out twice with an hour in between. The new test looks for a protein, c-myc – levels of which rise quickly after a heart attack, show up easily – and needs to be done only once.
“Our research shows that the new test has the potential to reassure many thousands more patients with a single test,” says Dr Tom Kaier, a cardiologist at King’s College London.
At his own hospital, St Thomas’ in London, Kaier said that the test had the potential to save £800,000 a year in reduced admissions. Though it’s still in the trial stage, he hopes that the test will be rolled out across the NHS within five years.