Studies have found new blood tests that are capable of detecting if a person is having a heart attack much faster than traditional methods.
Traditional tests can take hours to register levels of the chemical cardiac troponin in the blood, which delays diagnosis and treatment.
But the new tests, which are made by Roche AG, Siemens AG and Abbott, work more quickly and more accurately.
Although troponin may already be present in the heart muscle, it can take hours for it to get into the blood at levels high enough to be measured.
But the new ultra-sensitive blood tests have been designed to detect troponin soon after chest pains begin.
The results, which are published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show the new Roche test correctly spotted a heart attack upon admission in at least 94% of the cases, compared to the standard Roche test which was accurate 90% of the time.
Three German medical centres then tested the Siemens test and found comparable results.
Dr Tobias Reichlin of University Hospital Basel in Switzerland and colleagues wrote: “The savings associated with this increase in early diagnostic accuracy might be substantial.”