Aug. 14 (Bloomberg) -- Doctors may be able diagnose a heart attack in one hour using a new test approach that could save time, money and crowding in hospital emergency rooms, researchers said.
Using more-sensitive screening technology to detect changes in cardiac troponin, a substance in the blood tested for evidence of heart attack, and inputting the data into an algorithm, doctors were able to determine whether a heart attack had occurred in 77 percent of patients within an hour of arriving at the hospital with chest pain, according to research published in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
About 10 percent of all emergency room consultations are for patients with heart attack symptoms, the researchers said. Limitations in older tools used to read troponin can delay heart attack diagnosis for as long as six hours and contribute to overcrowding in the emergency room, the authors said.
“There’s a bit more work to be done to show, that in a prospective fashion, by employing these algorithms you have good clinical results,” said Prof. Kristin Newby, at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, North Carolina.
Rising troponin levels are a marker of a heart attack. With conventional tests it can take three to four hours before doctors can detect an increase in troponin levels.