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Simple emergency room test proves very good at ruling out heart attacks

Man connected to the 10 electrodes necessary for a 12-lead EKG

Thanks to a new Swedish study, a simple blood test may save patients time, fear and money when it comes to diagnosing whether or not they have had heart attacks. In fact, the test, when administered in conjunction with a standard electrocardiogram of the heartbeat has proven to be 99% accurate in determining when patients could be sent safely home, rather than be admitted for more tests and observation.

“While many people may feel reassured by being admitted to a hospital where medical staff can ‘keep an eye on them,’ they also run the risk of picking up a variety of infections, and will be hit by high costs for unnecessary diagnostics and basic care. We believe that by using the blood tests and EKG’s during the initial emergency room visit, at least 20%-25% of admissions for chest pains can be avoided,” stated study leader Dr. Nadia Bandstein of the Karolinska University Hospital in Sweden.

It is now estimated that more than 15 million people in both the US and Europe rush to emergency rooms in response to chest pains, although most turn out to be due to either indigestion or anxiety. Still, doctors don’t want to miss the one “true” case.

According to Bandstein’s study only 15 out of 9,000 patients judged low risk by the blood test and normal EKG went on to suffer a heart attack within 30 days. None, however, died.

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