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Blood test could detect heart attack early

Researchers in Canada are developing a new blood test that they say shows promise of becoming a quicker and more accurate method for diagnosing whether patients with chest pain are having a heart attack. The test could save lives by allowing quicker intervention to prevent more advanced heart damage and could improve the quality of life for heart attack survivors, they say.

In preliminary lab studies, the test produced results in just five minutes and had a 99 percent accuracy rate, according to the researchers.

Their study is scheduled to appear in the August 1 print issue of the Journal of Proteome Research, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society.

The new test is a dramatic improvement over conventional blood tests that can take several hours to become positive following a heart attack and are only 50 to 70 percent accurate upon hospital admission, the researchers say. It uses mass spectrometry to measure two markers in blood serum that are associated with the earliest stages of a heart attack, which can be difficult to diagnose.

It could help reduce unnecessary hospital stays by patients whose chest pain is caused by other conditions, such as gallstones and severe indigestion, which can mimic heart attack pain, the researchers say. Of the estimated three to five million Americans visiting emergency rooms each year with chest pain, only about one in five of these actually have a heart attack, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

The test also shows promise for identifying heart attacks that can occur without the classic symptom of chest pain or the classic abnormal electrocardiogram (ECG). Some heart attack patients come to the hospital with ambiguous symptoms, including indigestion, dizziness, shortness of breath, or pain in other parts of the body, such as the neck, jaw or arm.

"I think this test will dramatically improve the ability of p
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Contact: Michael Bernstein
m_bernstein@acs.org
202-872-6042
American Chemical Society
12-Jun-2003


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