A new discovery that could simultaneously predict when a person is about to have a heart attack and save emergency services millions has been made by researchers at the University of Edinburgh.
A team of scientists has found that the levels of a protein called troponin in the blood are indicative of whether a patient is on the verge of suffering cardiac arrest or not. Anyone with a troponin concentration of 5 nanograms per litre or higher is likely to be in danger. This means that patients complaining of chest pain need only take a blood test in order to figure out how much trouble they could be in.
As things stand, around 200,000 people suffer heart attacks each year, compared with the million or so who admit themselves to hospital with chest pains. There's been no quick-fire way to rule out a heart attack until now, with services only able to detect whether a heart attack has already happened or not. What's more, it's not unusual for current methods to require a patient to remain in hospital for over 24 hours.
“Over the last two decades the number of hospital admissions due to chest pain has tripled but the overwhelming majority of these patients do not have a heart attack,” said Dr Anoop Shah, the lead researcher. “These findings could dramatically reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and provide substantial cost savings for healthcare providers.”
The British Heart Foundation has called for the test to be rolled out across the NHS, which sounds like a no-brainer to us. It certainly sounds more accurate than using Twitter to predict heart disease. [Telegraph]