New test for heart attack diagnosis could save NHS millions

28 September 2017 09:11

A&E wait times could be cut by the new heart attack detection test

A&E wait times could be cut by the new heart attack detection test

Heart attacks could be diagnosed much quicker with a new blood test that readily detects damage to the heart muscle.

As well as picking up on whether a heart attack has occurred, the new test will also enable patients who aren't suffering a heart attack to be sent home quicker, potentially saving the NHS millions of pounds.

Advances in medicine

Current methods for detecting heart attacks involve a series of blood tests over three hours, which analyses biomarkers, including cardiac troponin.

While two-thirds of patients are diagnosed as not having suffered a heart attack and are discharged, many people fall into an intermediate risk group, requiring further tests and an overnight stay in hospital.

Dr Tom Kaier, a lead researcher at St Thomas' hospital in London , said: "It is important for both patients and doctors to work out early who has had a heart attack and who hasn't.

"We often see patients in hospital who have to stay for further tests as a result of a mildly abnormal blood test - this is stressful and often unnecessary."

Now scientists at King's College in London believe they may have developed a new test that is more accurate and provides a rapid diagnosis.

The test detects an additional and more sensitive biomarker - cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyC) - that alerts to muscle damage of the heart.

Study yields strong results

A study of the test's effectiveness - funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) - has been carried out on more than 2,000 patients at hospitals across Europe.

Compared with the old method of testing, the cMyC test doubled the number of people that could be sent home after being found not to be having a heart attack.

Mike Marber, professor of cardiology at King's College London and head of the UK arm of the research, said: "We've shown that this test is not only just as good as the current test for working out who has had a heart attack, but it's also much better at working out who hasn't.

"We would love to see this new test rolled out in hospitals in the next five years."

Anyone with existing health problems such as a heart condition can get added peace of mind when planning overseas trips by taking out pre-existing medical travel insurance.

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