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Patients at Manchester Royal Infirmary are the subject of a ground-breaking international trial that could soon find out if a simple blood test can be used a way of determining whether a patient suffering chest pains has experienced a heart attack.
Researchers claim that high levels of a chemical named troponin in the blood can beused as evidence of a heart attack, and experts hope that this new test will enable doctors to make a diagnosis within one hour.
A highly sensitive blood test revealing the level of troponin will now be implemented on patients admitted to MRI suffering from chest pains.
The results of the test will then be compared to the patient's actual diagnosis in an attempt to determine its effectiveness.
The trial is the only one of its kind to take place in the UK, although other programmes have occurred in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA, with 1,400 patients taking part in total.
The team of researchers from the University of Manchester is being led by Dr Richard Body, who specialises in looking at more efficient ways of diagnosing heart attacks.
Commenting on the trial, Dr Body said: "This study could potentially make a huge difference to the way staff in emergency departments diagnose heart attacks and the subsequent treatment options for patients.
"If we can rule out a heart attack in as little as an hour, this is reassuring for patients, reduces the likelihood of them being admitted to hospital, prevents any unnecessary treatment and means we can look for other causes of their chest pain."
He added that the time saved would potentially mean that patients could be transferred to the right specialist service without wasting the time needed in order to make a full recovery.
The next step of the trial will see blood samples collected from all participating trial sites submitted to a laboratory, where they will be rigorously analysed over the next 12 months.
Dr Body and his team say that they hope to have definitive results by the middle of 2014.
Written by Mathew Horton
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