Better Test on Chest Pain

by Lesley Dobson ,  SAGA | 2011-03-23

A cardiac enzyme test is one of the first tools that doctors use to check whether you’ve had a heart attack. What they’re looking for are troponins - a type of protein - in the blood. Now new research suggests that making this test more sensitive may make it better at detecting evidence of a heart attack.

Troponins are normally found in the heart muscle. If they are found in the blood, this means that the heart muscle has been damaged, possibly by a heart attack. So if you have chest pains this blood test can help doctors get an idea of whether or not you’re having – or have had - a small heart attack.

The new research, partly funded by the British Heart Foundation at the University of Edinburgh was led by the BHF’s Chair of Cardiology, Professor David Newby. It looked at whether lowering the diagnostic threshold (amount of troponins in the blood used to diagnose a heart attack) would be more effective.  Would a more sensitive troponin test help diagnose patients who have had heart attacks and identify those at high risk of dying from a second attack?

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