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A New Test To Save Potential Heart Attack

Chest pain although not 100 percent but is a likely symptom for potential heart attack. Many may simply end up death because doctors cannot accurately diagnose and treat patients who have nondiagnostic ECG results and normal cardiac enzymes.

Recently, a 15-second emergency-room test can determine which patients with chest pain have heart problems and which do not. This can potentially save lives by allowing doctors to focus on those who are in urgent need. This is the finding of a study conducted by researchers from Harvard Medical School and published on the online Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association in October 2006.

In the study, 103 patients with chest pain were given routine tests as well as a 15-second scan called multidetector computed tomography (MDCT), which enables doctors to see where plaque has built up in coronary arteries, making them narrowing and harder.

MDCT is a form of computed tomography (CT, an x-ray procedure that uses the help of a computer to produce a detailed picture of a cross section of the body.) technology for diagnostic imaging. In MDCT, a two-dimensional array of detector elements replaces the linear array of detector elements employed by the typical conventional and helical CT scanners. The two-dimensional detector array permits CT scanners to acquire multiple slices or sections simultaneously and greatly increase the speed of CT image acquisition.

The process of detecting plaque is important since its buildup is telltale sign of acute coronary syndrome (ACS), an umbrella term for the chest pain associated with heart attack and angina.

ACS is rare without plaque, so MDCT results may quickly identify a group of patients that can safely be discharged. This can also save lives by reducing the burden of emergency rooms and physicians thereby giving them more time to focus on patients who really have heart problems.

The study examined the cases of 41 women and 62 men, averaged age 54, coming to the Massachusetts General Hospital emergency room with acute chest pain. Of these 103 patients, 14 were diagnosed with ACS during hospitalization and all had significant plaque levels as revealed by the MDCT.

And of the 41 patients without significant levels of plaque according to the MDCT, none had ACS diagnosed during their hospitalization or subsequent 5 months.

The study also found that 73 of the patients had no significant narrowing of the coronary arteries and not one of them had ACS.

 

 

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