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New Type Of Blood Test Could Help Determine Heart Attacks Sooner

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) -- In the emergency department, there's now a faster test to tell if you're having a heart attack.

"The sooner you get in, the sooner we make the diagnosis, the better your outcome is going to be," says Dr. Travis Wilson, a cardiologist at Allegheny Health Network.

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Currently, doctors have a customary battery of tests.

"Among them are heart tracings called EKGs, and we also do blood tests," says Dr. Wilson.

During a heart attack, heart cells go without blood and oxygen and die. In the process, they leak enzymes, among them one called troponin.

"With the troponin test, with the traditional test, it usually takes anywhere from three to six hours to be able to detect those abnormalities after the onset of symptoms," explains Dr. Wilson.

Checking for this enzyme is standard, and takes several timed measurements.

In a recent study from New Zealand, researchers looked at a new type of troponin test, which could be used as a single blood test to figure out of you're having a heart attack, or if you're not.

"In this study, they looked at a new test that they propose can detect an abnormality within 15 minutes of actually collecting that sample," said Dr. Wilson.

The new test detects lower levels of troponin. It was accurate when compared to the standard old one.

But the study involved only one hospital and 350 patients.

"In the field of cardiology is a very small study," Dr. Wilson said.

This new test is only a research tool, and larger studies will be needed before it's commonly used to diagnose heart attacks earlier.

"I think it potentially does have a very, very valuable role," says Dr. Wilson.

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