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Prolonged Hospital Admissions Avoided By Simple Heart Attack Predicting Blood Test
The Lancet Medical Journal have recently published a report highlighting the benefits of a new blood test designed to eliminate the need to be monitered in A&E for heart attack after patients are admitted due to chest pain. This simple blood test could potentially save the NHS millions as well as prevent thousands of unnecessary hospital admissions.
The test measures a blood protein called troponin which is an accurate predictor of imminent heart attack. Because troponin is released by damaged heart tissue, low levels would suggest that the likelyhood of heart attack within the proceeding month is extremley low.
Research from scientists at the University of Edinburgh says troponin testing could rule out a heart attack diagnosis in nearly two thirds of people at accident and emergency (A&E) departments, meaning they could be sent home if there is no danger of heart attack, potentially saving the health service millions of pounds.
There are around 188,000 heart attacks in the UK each year, yet about one million people each year are taken to emergency departments after experiencing chest pains near their heart. According to the report’s lead author, Dr Anoop Shah, this figure has tripled in the last 20 years.
The study, funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF), measured troponin levels in over 6,000 patients at four hospitals in Scotland and the US, and discovered 61% of those tested had a troponin concentration of less than five nanograms per decilitre – equating to a 99.6% likelihood that risk of a heart attack was minimal.
Professor Jeremy Pearson, the BHF’s associate medical director, said the results of the study would likely be used “to shape national and international clinical guidelines on the early rule-out of heart attacks”, and “impact on how the majority of patients presenting with chest pain are managed in A&E, influencing future healthcare service provision and patient care.”
Professor Pearson also says; “A faster, more accurate diagnosis of whether chest pain is caused by a heart attack would be better for patients and save the NHS money. We want to ensure no heart attack diagnosis is missed but we equally don’t want to see people go through unnecessary tests and spend extended periods in hospital unless it is essential. Nobody wants to be in hospital unless they have to be".
Giving doctors the abilty to accurately predict when patients may suffer a hear attack is undeniably forseight that the NHS would find invaluable. It now seems that it's only a matter of time before these findings are put into regular practical use within our hospitals.
Posted on Thursday Oct 8