Can A New Blood Test Diagnose Heart Attacks Earlier?

17 Apr 2017 | Stephanie Prior
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It has been recently reported that new research has developed new blood tests to diagnose heart attacks.  The British Heart Foundation funded the study and found that the new test is more sensitive and quicker in detecting heart attack damage than the current Troponin test.

The study included 4,000 patients at St. Thomas’ Hospital, and the scientists from King’s College Hospital, London, found that 47% of people tested for the Troponin protein fell into the “intermediate risk group”, and this meant that further tests were required to diagnose a heart attack.

The Troponin test can “rule out” a heart attack.  Diagnosing a patient who is suffering from a heart attack can take longer.  The commonly used blood tests are Troponin, CK or CK-MB, and serum myoglobin tests. These tests are often repeated to check for changes in a patient over time.

This new blood test could be available in the next six months to a year, with industry support, and this could lead to quicker diagnosis to allow those not suffering from a heart attack to be sent home much sooner.

In the UK there are nearly 200,000 hospital visits due to heart attacks.  There are many more people visiting hospital due to chest pain and it is essential for doctors to distinguish which patients are suffering from chest pain which could go on to cause a heart attack, and those who are suffering from chest pain for other reasons.

I am currently acting for several families individually in relation to potential claims relating to failure to diagnose and treat a heart attack.  In two cases I am involved in, both people suffering from chest pain were told that they did not have a heart attack.  One was not taken to the hospital and died 10 hours later of myocardial infarction. The other attended the accident and emergency department and was told he was not suffering from a heart attack and died approximately 10 hours later. Sadly in both of these cases, the deceased had been diagnosed with a heart attack, it is likely that treatment would have been instigated, and both of these patients would have survived.  The deceased, who was not taken to hospital by ambulance, was only 54 years old and lived eight minutes away from his local hospital, an eminent centre for cardiology.  He would have been treated and the balance of probabilities would still be alive today.  In the second case, the deceased was 42 years of age, married with two small children and was incorrectly diagnosed with asthma.  He was not given any medication to treat his heart condition and it was quite clear on the ECG tracing that he had suffered a myocardial infarction, yet he was discharged home.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, who is the Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, has been quoted as saying, “This new test could transform the way we diagnose heart attacks, improving the sensitivity and ensuring that heart attacks are not missed when Troponin levels in the blood are extremely low. We now need more research to find out whether this test is effective and affordable”.

The new breakthrough blood test will hopefully have ability to diagnose patients much quicker which will lead to instigating treatment much more quickly, which will prevent cases of misdiagnosis and unavoidable deaths which change the surviving relatives lives forever.


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