High levels of a chemical called troponin in the blood can indicate a heart attack. A new, highly sensitive blood test for troponin will be used on blood samples donated by 140 patients who were admitted to MRI with chest pains. The results of the new blood test will be compared with the actual diagnosis for each patient to show the effectiveness of the test.
Dr Richard Body, Consultant in Emergency Medicine at MRI and Honorary Lecturer in Cardiovascular Medicine at The University of Manchester, is leading the research team and Manchester is the only location in the UK where the trial is taking place. He was invited by Roche, the blood test manufacturer, to take part in the trial as he specialises in research into better and faster ways to diagnose heart attacks. The other trial sites are in Australia, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland and the USA, with 1400 patients taking part in total.
Working with Dr. Body, research nurses, Andy Brown and Richard Clark answered any questions patients had about the trial and took a series of blood samples. The team is also following up all the patients in the trial over the next 12 months to check how they are recovering.
"This study could potentially make a huge difference to the way staff in emergency departments diagnose heart attacks and the subsequent treatment options for patients," said Dr Body. "If we can rule out a heart attack in as little as an hour, this is reassuring for patients, reduces the likelihood of them being admitted to hospital, prevents any unnecessary treatment and means we can look for other causes of their chest pain.
"Equally, if we know we are definitely dealing with a heart attack we can transfer patients to the right specialist cardiac services without wasting any time and so boost their chances of making a full recovery."
The next steps in the trial involve all the blood samples from the 14 participating sites being submitted to a central laboratory for analysis over the coming 12 months. This will include assessing factors that can affect troponin levels, such as gender, age, high blood pressure or cholesterol and health conditions such as heart disease or diabetes. Dr Body and his international colleagues will then spend time looking at the results to see if the blood troponin test is as fast and accurate as anticipated. They hope to have definitive results by mid-2014.
"The researchers involved in the trial are very influential in the emergency medicine field. If the trial is a success, Manchester will have contributed to changing international standards of diagnosis and care for all heart attack patients," added Dr Body.