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Heart attacks are hard to diagnose in women, but this test could change that

It has proved to be twice as effective when compared with previous methods.
Jan 21st 2015, 7:15 AM 12,009 4

A NEW TEST for heart attacks has proved to be twice as effective at spotting the condition in women than previous methods.

The test is based around looking for a protein called troponin. Higher levels of it can indicate a cardiac injury, but women tend to have lower levels than men, making it difficult to spot.

According to a study published today in the British Medical Journal, the new test has shown to be twice as effective at spotting a heart attack in women than using standard troponin tests.

Researchers at the University of Edinburgh collected data from 1,126 patients and found the likelihood of diagnosis increased from 11% to 22%.

“While men and women are just as likely to present to the emergency department with chest pain, men are currently twice as likely to be diagnosed with a heart attack,” Dr Anoop Shah, one of the authors of the study said, noting that women are more likely to have poor outcomes from a heart attack:

The highly sensitive troponin test, with gender specific thresholds for men and women, may diagnose more heart attacks in women, and identify women at high risk who may benefit from targeted evidence based therapy.

Dr Angie Brown, medical director of the Irish Heart Foundation, said if this is confirmed in larger trials, it “could reduce the number of women suffering from or even dying of a heart attack”.

It is often thought that heart disease is a man’s disease but the reality is that it kills just as many women as men in Ireland and in fact, women are seven times more likely to die from heart disease than from breast cancer.

Read: HIQA urges more cost-effective use of public defibrillators >

More: ‘Only for you, I’d be visiting a graveside and not a bedside’ >

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