Heart attack: New rapid test procedure for reliable infarction determination

Heart attack: New rapid test procedure for reliable infarction determination

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What can the 1-hour troponin test do?

The heart attack is still the most common cause of death in Germany. Around 49,000 people die of it every year in Germany. 220,000 people are treated every year in German clinics for a heart attack. There is also a high number of unreported cases, because not all heart attack patients know that they have had an infarction. On the other hand, other patients wrongly think that they have a heart attack without which they would actually be. The symptoms are not always clear. A new rapid test should now ensure faster and safer treatment for heart attacks.

With the support of the German Heart Foundation, the German Heart Research Foundation (DSHF) successfully tested a new rapid test method called the 1-hour troponin test for diagnosing a heart attack on 1,500 high-risk patients. The test detects whether there is a heart attack or not within an hour. This is crucial for the further treatment of those affected.

A heart attack can have many faces

As the heart experts of the German Heart Foundation report, a heart attack can show up in different ways. Many sufferers complain of burning and oppressive chest pain, which is accompanied by a feeling of tightness. Others describe their symptoms as radiating pain that extends from the breastbone to the arms, shoulder blades, neck, jaw and upper abdomen. In addition, accompanying symptoms such as excessive sweating, nausea and shortness of breath can occur. Some patients also show less clear signs.

Risk of confusion

Many symptoms that appear in connection with a heart attack can also indicate other diseases. "The faster and more reliably the existing disease can be diagnosed, the faster the appropriate therapy can be given and the greater the chances of a cure for the patient," explains senior physician Professor Dr. med. Willibald Hochholzer in a press release on the new diagnostic method. So far, doctors have mainly used an electrocardiogram to analyze the heart currents. However, this is not the central criterion to support a heart attack diagnosis.

A protein complex indicates heart damage

The heart specialists explain that a reliable diagnosis can only be made using the so-called troponin. It is a protein complex that helps the heart muscle cells contract and thus ensures that the heart does its job as a blood pump. If these muscle cells receive too little oxygen as a result of an infarct, the troponin is released into the blood. According to the German Heart Foundation, this also happens with other diseases in which the heart is damaged, such as, for example, pulmonary embolism, septic shock or certain cardiac arrhythmias. "Due to a relative lack of oxygen, these patients also go through a type of" heart attack "without vascular occlusion, a so-called type 2 myocardial infarction," explains Professor Hochholzer.

Every heart attack requires the right treatment

The correct treatment is also decided based on the underlying cause. When talking about a heart attack, this primarily means type 1 myocardial infarction. As a rule, this must be treated as quickly as possible by immediately opening the affected coronary artery again with a balloon and implanting a stent. "The test works excellently for the exclusion of a heart attack even in high-risk patients," the professor summarizes the test results.

How does the 1-hour troponin test work?

In the test, the troponin present in the blood is measured. The so-called 1-hour troponin diagnosis algorithm recognizes within an hour whether a heart attack has actually occurred or not. The new test is recommended in the current guidelines of the European Cardiology Society (ESC) for patients with suspected heart attack. Currently, the test is to be improved so that it can also differentiate a type 1 myocardial infarction from a type 2 myocardial infarction. (vb)

Author and source information

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