A blood test that could rule out a heart attack in under 20 minutes should be used routinely, say UK researchers. A team from King’s College London have tested it on patients and say the cMyC test could be rolled out on the NHS within five years. They claim it would save the health service millions of pounds each year by freeing up beds and sending well patients home.
About two-thirds of patients with chest pain will not have had a heart attack. A heart trace, called an ECG, can quickly show up major heart attacks, but it is not very good at excluding more common, smaller ones that can still be life-threatening. Currently, patients with suspect chest pain and a clear ECG can have a different heart-attack blood test, called troponin, when they arrive at A&E. But it needs to be repeated three hours later to pick up signs of heart muscle damage.
Alison Fullingham, 49 and from Bolton, did not realise she was having a heart attack when she experienced pain in her upper chest, neck and jaw. Despite a small change in her ECG, doctors initially suspected she was having a simple panic attack. It was only hours later when her troponin tests came back that the correct diagnosis was reached.
Levels of cMyC (cardiac myosin-binding protein C) in the blood rise more rapidly and to a higher extent after a heart attack than troponin proteins, studies suggest.