New blood test speeds up heart attack diagnosis

UT Southwestern Medical Center clinicians are among the first in the nation to use a new high-sensitivity blood test that cuts the time to diagnose a heart attack by more than half.

A new high-sensitivity blood test is cutting the time to diagnose a heart attack by more than half. And UT Southwestern Medical Center clinicians are among the first in the nation to use it.

Their research was recently published in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation.

{SUPER: Sandeep Das, M.D./Associate Professor, Internal Medicine}

What we did in our study was compare our previous standard of care blood test to this new high sensitivity blood test and with the old blood test it took 8 to 10 hours. With the newer high sensitivity test, we were able to make the diagnosis in 1 hour in about half the patients and in 3 hours in most of the rest so it allows us to get our answer much, much faster.

More than 5 million patients visit U.S. hospitals with chest pain every year.

But only 10 percent of them are having heart attacks.

If we can find the people that don’t need emergency room care and get them directed to their definitive source of care faster than that helps unload the emergency room and it allows resources to be focused on the people that really, really need it.

So how does this test work?

Our heart muscle cells contain certain enyzmes.

During a heart attack, they leak out into the blood.

This test, cardiac troponin, allows for earlier detection and more precise patient care.

I think this is something that I think we’re going to see in our practice in the U.S. You’re going to begin to see hospitals in the U.S. begin to incorporate the use of this new higher sensitivity testing in their care.