A Christchurch ED study published today indicates a new point-of-care blood test could rule out heart attacks within 15 minutes as accurately as a standard laboratory test.

The study, published this morning in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA Cardiology), is a collaborative effort between the Canterbury District Health Board (CDHB) and the Christchurch Heart Institute.

Co-Lead author, Associate Professor John Pickering of the University of Otago, says this exciting development can greatly reduce the time and resource required to assess if somebody is at risk of having a possible heart attack.

“When a patient comes to ED with symptoms that suggest a potential heart-attack, current laboratory blood-testing procedures can take 1-2 hours to reveal the risk level, whereas with this new test we can get a result in just fifteen minutes, from the bedside, or ‘point-of-care’.

The patient can then either be cleared to leave, or quickly progressed to specialist cardiac care. The benefits are therefore a speedier diagnosis and treatment, and a reduction in the time and effort current testing procedures require of ED staff, beds, and equipment,” Associate Professor Pickering says.

Senior author, and Emergency Medicine Specialist, Dr Martin Than of the CDHB says current point-of-care tests can lack the precision of this new method that is centred around a measurement of cardiac troponin – a protein in the blood.

“Our results have extremely exciting potential for not only EDs, but also isolated healthcare providers – such as those in rural communities – worldwide. Given the concerning impact heart disease and other cardio-vascular conditions have on not only New Zealand society but also internationally, we have something that could benefit tens of millions of patients globally, while also freeing up EDs and isolated healthcare staff and resources,” Dr Than says.

The analysis in this observational study (conducted from 2016-2017) at Christchurch Hospital’s emergency department included about 350 patients with symptoms of a heart attack.

“So far our testing has shown that close to fifty percent of patients could have heart attack safely excluded soon after arrival at the ED. Wider study is in progress  and an implementation study across ten District Health Boards in New Zealand is planned for next year,” Dr Than says.

The study was supported by a grant from Abbott Point-of-Care, and is also supported by Canterbury Medical Research Foundation, the Emergency care Foundation, the Health Research Council, the New Zealand Heart Foundation along with the Christchurch Heart Institute of University of Otago Christchurch.

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