Simple Blood Test Can Rule Out Heart Attack
A new blood test—approved by the FDA in January, but not yet available in the United States—can help rule out acute myocardial infarction, or heart attack, in people who are experiencing chest pain. These simple tests, called high-sensitivity cardiac troponin T (hs-TnT or hs-cTnT) blood tests for the rapid diagnosis of acute myocardial infarction, could revolutionize heart attack diagnosis and treatment—especially in hospital emergency departments.
A new meta-analysis published in the Annals of Internal Medicine suggests the test is highly effective. The analysis evaluated 11 studies involving 9,241 emergency room patients complaining of chest pain. Of these patients, 30 percent were classified as low-risk for heart attack because they had no new ischemia on ECG and had hs-TnT measurements below 0.005 μg/L. According to researchers, only 14 patients in this low-risk group had an acute myocardial infarction within the next 30 days.
Troponin may not be detectable in the first hours following a heart attack. The test should be used with caution within the first few hours of symptom onset and repeated after three hours. When the test becomes available in the U.S., it will likely be used in combination with existing protocols for diagnosing heart attack.
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