Fast heart attack test being trialled at Southmead Hospital

Monday, 11 June 2018

Heart attacks could be ruled out faster in patients with chest pain using a single blood test.

A research study being led by North Bristol NHS Trust has now begun and will assess whether offering a single heart blood test reassures patients, and in turn helps people leave hospital quicker.

Around two million people attend Emergency Departments in Britain with chest pain each year and currently most of these people will need to wait in hospital to have two blood tests, each a few hours apart.  In 8 out of 10 of these patients their chest pain is not a sign of a heart attack and most have less serious conditions like indigestion.  Currently they need to wait several hours to be told this.

The research, which is being carried out at six Emergency Departments – including Southmead Hospital Bristol – could see patients being reassured and able to go home from hospital sooner.

The research uses a new high-sensitivity troponin test which measures low levels of heart muscle damage in the blood – which is a sign of a heart attack.

The world-leading research could lead to a change in the way patients are assessed when they attend the Emergency Department with chest pain.

Southmead Hospital Emergency Department Consultant, Edd Carlton, is leading the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) - funded study.

Dr Carlton said: “I am very proud of the work we are doing to improve the experience of patients with chest pain and the potential to improve emergency department efficiency.

“We understand that this can be an anxious time for patients and hope that this study may go some way to improving their experience by providing reassurance quicker.

“It is important for our department to be involved in research of this kind and a privilege to have been awarded the NIHR funding.”

During the study, when patients attend participating Emergency Departments with chest pain, they will be allocated to either have the high sensitivity troponin test and be discharged if there is no sign of a heart attack, or the current pathway of having two blood tests.

The research study will run for 48 months, with 600 patients being asked to take part at Southmead Hospital, Royal United Hospital Bath, The Royal Devon and Exeter, Derriford Hospital, University Hospital of Wales Cardiff and Royal Berkshire Hospital Reading.