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.
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.
KVAL by Alicia Wang, 08/26/09