New test for identifying if women have had a heart attack shows promise!

“Doctors may be able to spot twice as many heart attacks in women by using a newer, more sensitive blood test,” Says BBC News.

heart attackFor reasons that are unclear a heart attack often doesn’t trigger the symptoms most people associate with the condition like severe chest pain, often described as like having an elephant sitting on your chest or a feeling of impending doom. This can lead to delays in diagnosis, which may impact on clinical outcomes.

A more sensitive blood test has been developed that can help determine if a person with the symptoms of a heart attack has actually had one.
The new test is more sensitive to levels of a protein called troponin. This protein is released is released into the blood when the heart muscle has sustained damage following a heart attack.

More than 1,0000 people were investigated for a suspected heart attack in addition to the standard diagnostic protocols used, such as an electrocardiogram (ECG).

It was found that if the new test was used side by side with standard protocols, the rate of accurate heart attack diagnoses in women would have doubled. However the test had less of an impact on the diagnosis for men.

Larger studies now underway and if they confirm these results, more women may be identified who have suffered from a heart attack and in need of preventative strategies, which, as the BBC quite rightly concluded, could save thousands of lives.

Spotting the signs of a heart attack

Try not to focus on chest pain and how severe it is. Often the chest pain can be mild or even non-existent. Try to look at the overall pattern of symptoms along with chest pain, such as:
• pain in other parts of the body – it can feel as if the pain is travelling from your chest to other parts of the body
• feeling sick or being sick
• an overwhelming sense of anxiety, similar to having a panic attack
• feeling lightheaded or dizzy
• sweating
• shortness of breath
• an overwhelming sense of anxiety, similar to having a panic attack
• coughing or wheezing
This is important, if you suspect that you or someone else is having a heart attack, dial 999 to ask for an ambulance immediately.

Where did the story come from?

This study was carried out by researchers from the University of Edinburgh, the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh, Southern General Hospital, St George’s Hospital and Medical School, and the University of Minnesota.

The study was funded by the British Heart Foundation with support from the legacy of Violet Kemlo. The tests were provided by the US pharmaceutical company Abbott Laboratories, but it is reported they had no role in the study design or analysis.
The study was published in the peer-reviewed British Medical Journal (BMJ) on an open-access basis, so it is free to read online.

The UK media covered the story accurately, and BBC News also provided expert opinion from Professor Peter Weissberg of the British Heart Foundation (BHF). Mr Weissberg reported that the BHF are now funding a larger study to confirm the results, and from this it is hoped more women will be identified who could benefit from preventative measures when they are having a heart attack.

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