A new test that rules out myocardial infarction could reduce hospital admissions by as much as 40% for patients with chest pain, according to UK researchers.
They found that a quick protocol, involving a blood test administered to patients who presented at accident and emergency departments with chest pain, could significantly reduce the admission rates of patients with heart attack symptoms.
Patients with chest pain make up 10% of A&E attendances. Until now, patients have had to wait in hospital for up to 12 hours to be certain no evidence of an MI could be detected in the blood.
“It is my hope that this diagnostic tool can be used widely within hospitals in the UK to rule out heart attacks”
The study, led by Dr Edward Carlton from Bournemouth University, used information provided by patients – such as what the pain feels like, any shortness of breath or history of MI – in combination with an ECG and a new blood test called high-sensitivity troponin.
While using blood tests to rule out heart attacks is not new, hospitals have previously struggled to develop a clinically acceptable protocol that allows the discharge of a significant proportion of patients, without a prolonged hospital stay, said Dr Carlton.
The new approach would allow for up to 40% of patients to be discharged following a single high-sensitivity troponin blood test at presentation to A&E, he suggested.
Dr Carlton said: “We were really pleased with the findings of the research as we have shown that our simple but novel diagnostic strategy can potentially reduce the increasing burden on hospitals.
“It is my hope that this diagnostic tool can be used widely within hospitals in the UK to rule out heart attacks, allay the fears of patients and improve productivity within hospitals,” he added.
The research findings are published in the BMJ Heart Journal.