New Blood Tests Detect Heart Attacks Faster, Better - @ JEMS.com


New Blood Tests Detect Heart Attacks Faster, Better


 
 

| Wednesday, September 2, 2009


Editor s Note: Look for an in-depth discussion on how point-of-care testing can influence EMS care in an upcoming issue of JEMS.

LOS ANGELES - A new generation of blood tests can quickly and reliably show if a person is having a heart attack soon after chest pains start a time when current tests are not definitive, two studies found.

The newer, sensitive tests give a much better way to tell who needs help fast. Each year, 15 million people in the United States and Europe go to emergency rooms with symptoms of a heart attack, but most are not truly suffering one.

Those having a heart attack need to have blocked arteries opened quickly to limit damage to the heart muscle from lack of blood.

Doctors currently have two main ways of diagnosing a heart attack. They can use an electrocardiogram, or EKG, to measure the electrical activity of the heartbeat for abnormalities. But that test is not always conclusive.

Doctors also use blood tests to detect elevated levels of a heart muscle protein known as troponin a sign of heart muscle injury. A drawback with the older troponin tests is they take longer to detect increased troponin levels and by that time, heart damage may have already occurred.

New tests improve diagnosis earlier

Two European studies published in Thursday's New England Journal of Medicine found that the newer blood tests can improve early diagnosis of a heart attack soon after a person feels chest pain. The studies looked at four tests made by Abbott Laboratories, Roche and Siemens AG. The Abbott and Siemens tests are approved for use in the United States.

"Until this point, we really did not have direct evidence that they improved overall diagnostic accuracy," said cardiologist Dr. David Morrow of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston. Morrow wrote an accompanying editorial in the journal and has consulted for Siemens.

In one study, doctors led by the University Hospital in Basel, Switzerland, took blood samples from 718 patients who came into the emergency room with heart attack symptoms such as chest discomfort and shortness of breath. Doctors compared the accuracy of four of the new blood tests with an older test.

In the second study, researchers led by Johannes Gutenberg University in Mainz, Germany, studied 1,818 people who came in with chest pain. Their troponin level was detected by a sensitive Siemens test and a conventional test.

In both cases, the accuracy of the newer tests was 94 to 96 percent compared with 85 to 90 percent for the older tests.

Mayo Clinic cardiologist Dr. Allan Jaffe advocates using the newer tests. Several doctors said the new tests do not cost more than the older versions they are replacing, and are usually covered by insurance.

"You diagnose heart attacks faster and you detect more people who are having heart attacks," said Jaffe, who had no role in the studies.

Unclear whether early detection saves lives

Further studies are needed to determine if earlier detection of heart injury results in more lives saved, the researchers said.

The Swiss study was funded by the Swiss National Science Foundation, Swiss Heart Foundation and the three makers of the tests. One of the authors reported receiving fees from the three companies. The German study was funded by diagnostic company Brahms Aktiengesellschaft. Two of the authors reported receiving fees from test makers.




Connect: Have a thought or feedback about this? Add your comment now
Related Topics: Leadership and Professionalism, Cardiac and Circulation, Technology, Patient Management, Research

What's Your Take? Comment Now ...

Buyer's Guide Featured Companies

Featured Careers & Jobs in EMS

Get JEMS in Your Inbox

 

Fire EMS Blogs


Blogger Browser

Today's Featured Posts

 

EMS Airway Clinic

Innovation & Advancement

This is the seventh year of the EMS 10 Innovators in EMS program, jointly sponsored by Physio-Control and JEMS.
More >

Multimedia Thumb

Wesleyan Students Hospitalized for Overdose

11 students transported to local hospitals.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Denver Medic's Family Says Job Stress Contributed to Suicide

Veteran of over 25 years took her own life after a call.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Denver First Responders Join to Remember Paramedic

Veteran medic took her own life after fatal accident.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Rigs Going in Service from EMS Today 2015

Snap shots of some of the vehicles at EMS Today that will be on the streets soon
More >


Multimedia Thumb

Florida Hospital Fire

Fire halts construction project at Tampa cancer center.
More >


Multimedia Thumb

LMA MAD Nasal™

Needle-free intranasal drug delivery.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

Field Bridge Xpress ePCR on iPad, Android, Kindle Fire

Sneak peek of customizable run forms & more.
Watch It >


Multimedia Thumb

The AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher Conversion Kit - EMS Today 2013

AmbuBus®, Bus Stretcher all-hazards preparedness & response tool
Watch It >


More Product Videos >