A quicker medical decision on a heart attack?
BY MAUDLYNE IHEJIRIKA Staff Reporterfirstname.lastname@example.org August 14, 2012 8:50PM
Updated: September 16, 2012 6:24AM
With heart attacks as one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. — its symptoms triggering 10 percent of all emergency room visits — a new test that could confirm or rule one out within an hour holds significant promise, said researchers and doctors here.
The hyper-sensitive screening test for changes in cardiac troponin — a substance in the blood after an attack — could diagnose emergency room patients with chest pain within that critical first hour, according to the study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine. Current tests for troponin can take as long as six hours to confirm.
“Currently, if a person has had a heart attack at noon and came into the E.R. at 12:30, the blood work would not appear positive for troponins until at least 6,” notes Dr. Atman Shah, an interventional cardiologist at the University of Chicago Hospitals.
“So now you’ve got a test that can determine whether or not a patient’s having a heart attack within about an hour. With emergency room overcrowding, how many of those patients are waiting in the E.R. for 12 hours when they could potentially go home in two?”
“If it turns out half as great as they say, the implications are significant,” says Shah.
More than 1 million Americans this year will suffer a heart attack, according to the American Heart Association. It occurs when a clot develops in a coronary artery, cutting blood supply to the heart. If flow isn’t restored quickly, heart muscle begins to die.
Early detection and treatment, through medication and surgery, is crucial, doctors say.