A simple blood test could detect twice as many women suffering a heart attack as the standard NHS test, research suggests.
The new test is much more sensitive than the one currently used by doctors and is particularly effective in picking up cases in women.
It detects levels of troponin, a protein that leaks into the blood from heart muscle cells after they have been damaged by a heart attack.
Doctors measure troponin to see if a heart attack is the reason why somebody is suffering chest pains.
The new test - called the high sensitive troponin-I (hsTnI) test - can measure much lower levels of troponin than the one currently used by the NHS.
Research found it is particularly effective in women because they appear to have lower troponin levels than men.
Until now, it had been assumed that levels of troponin were the same in men and women.
Experts believe the new findings could lead to far more women being diagnosed with a heart attack, potentially saving lives.
Dr Nicholas Mills, one of the study authors and a cardiologist from the University of Edinburgh, presented the findings at the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) conference in Amsterdam.
“Whilst men and women are just as likely to present to the emergency department with chest pain, currently men are twice as likely to be diagnosed with a heart attack,” he said.
He said using the test meant “the frequency of diagnosis of heart attacks in women increased and was comparable to men.
“The findings of our study, when completed, could change the way we diagnose heart attacks in women, potentially reducing inequalities in the treatment and outcomes, and enabling everyone to receive the best care.”