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New blood test can diagnose heart attack in under 20 minutes

Tuesday 10th October 2017
Scientists from Kings College London have developed a new blood test that can provide a heart attack diagnosis within just 20 minutes. Image: KatarzynaBialasiewicz via iStock
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UK scientists have developed a new blood test that they believe is able to determine whether or not a patient has had a heart attack in less than 20 minutes.

Researchers from King's College London are confident that the simple new test is so effective that it could be rolled out across NHS hospitals within the next five years, significantly reducing the time and worry involved in waiting for a heart attack diagnosis.

Currently, electrocardiograms (ECGs) can be used to quickly find out whether a patient has suffered a big heart attack, but smaller ones can often go unnoticed for several hours, leaving individuals in pain and worrying about what might be wrong with them.

Approximately two-thirds of all patients who present at hospital with chest pains have not had a heart attack, but the NHS spends a huge amount of time and money assessing this, placing a strain on its other, already stretched resources.

However, the King's College London doctors believe their new 'instant' blood test can provide accurate results in under 20 minutes, meaning patients will be able to begin accessing the best treatment for their needs faster than ever before, improving their long-term prognosis.

What's more, the team estimates that the time and money saved due to the simpler tests would equate to several million pounds a year, alongside freeing up much-needed hospital beds.

Speaking to BBC News, Professor Simon Ray from the British Cardiovascular Society explained: "Unlike currently available blood tests which need to be repeated at least three hours after pain, it looks as though a single test is enough to make a confident decision on whether a patient has or has not suffered a heart attack.

"It also seems to be better at discriminating between heart attacks and other causes of chest pains. This is very important."

Written by Martin Lambert

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