A simple blood test able to rule out a heart attack for two-thirds of people arriving at A&E with chest pains could save the NHS millions, doctors have said.
According to the Daily Mail, around one million people arrive at hospitals complaining of chest pain each year, but just 188,000 of those are actually suffering from a heart attack. However, anyone who arrives at A&E with chest pains must undergo six hours of testing and must remain in hospital overnight for observation.
A simple new test could change this by allowing doctors to quickly determine whether a patient is at risk of a heart attack, or if they may be suffering from a less severe problem, such as muscle strain, indigestion or heartburn.
The highly-sensitive test would provide results in just 30 minutes and cost only £5 per patient, thus saving the NHS millions per year.
Researchers at the University of Edinburgh have shown the test to be highly accurate, and Dr Anoop Shah, the study co-author, said that he hoped the test would be recommended for use in international cardiology guidelines within 18 months.
"A faster, more accurate diagnosis of whether chest pain is caused by a heart attack would be better for patients and save the NHS money," said Professor Jeremy Pearson, associate medical director at BHF.
"We want to ensure no heart attack diagnosis is missed but we equally don't want to see people go through unnecessary tests and spend extended periods in hospital unless it is essential ... The evidence shows you can quickly and confidently rule out a heart attack without compromising patient safety."