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Test cuts heart attacks by 50%

Heart attack risk can be halved using a new, more sensitive blood test, university researchers have claimed.

The new method can detect very low levels of the protein troponin, released by the body when heart muscles are damaged during an attack.

Around 2,000 patients at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary were subjected to the test and researchers said an extra third of them were diagnosed as having had a heart attack, compared with results from usual testing.

The British Heart Foundation's Peter Weissberg said: "This promising study shows us that by using a more sensitive test for heart muscle damage, more patients who come to hospital with chest pains are identified as having suffered a small heart attack.

"Over recent years it has become clear that people who suffer heart pain but only a small amount of heart damage are at a very high risk of going on to have a larger, potentially fatal heart attack if left untreated.

"This test will help doctors identify this vulnerable group of patients."

The professor added that if further research corroborates the study's findings, more pressure will be placed on the NHS to adopt the new test as standard for patients with chest pain.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, also says patients will be more likely to receive better treatment if the more sensitive test is introduced.

Copyright © Press Association 2011

Journal of the American Medical Association