What can the 1-hour troponin test do?
Myocardial infarction is still the leading cause of death in Germany. About 49,000 people die of it each year in this country. 220,000 sufferers are treated each year in German hospitals due to a heart attack. In addition, there is a high number of unreported cases, because not all heart attack patients know that they had an infarct. Other patients, on the other hand, mistakenly think that they have an infarct without this being the case. Not always are the symptoms clear. A new rapid test is now to ensure a faster and safer treatment for heart attack.
With the support of the German Heart Foundation, the German Foundation for Heart Research (DSHF) successfully tested a new rapid test method called a 1-hour troponin test to diagnose a heart attack in 1,500 high-risk patients. The test detects within an hour whether a heart attack is present or not. 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 manifest itself in different ways. Many sufferers complain of burning and oppressive chest pains associated with a sense of tightness. Others describe their symptoms as radiating pain that runs from the sternum into the arms, shoulder blades, neck, jaw and upper abdomen. In addition, concomitant symptoms such as excessive sweating, nausea and breathlessness can occur. Some patients also show less obvious signs.
Many symptoms associated with a heart attack can also indicate other illnesses. "The faster and safer the existing disease can be diagnosed, the quicker the appropriate therapy can take place and the greater the chances of cure for the patients," explains senior physician Professor Dr. med. med. Willibald Hochholzer in a press release on the new diagnostic method. Up to now, doctors have mainly used an electrocardiogram to analyze the cardiac currents. However, this is not the key criterion to underpin a heart attack diagnosis.
A protein complex indicates heart damage
The heart specialists explain that one can only make a reliable diagnosis using the so-called troponin. It is a protein complex that helps the heart muscle cells to contract, ensuring that the heart performs its role 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 in other diseases in which the heart is damaged, such as in a pulmonary embolism, a septic shock or certain cardiac arrhythmias. "These patients, due to a relative lack of oxygen, also undergo a type of 'infarction' without vascular occlusion, a type 2 myocardial infarction," explains Professor Hochholzer.
Every infarct requires the right treatment
After the underlying cause decides the right treatment. When talking about a heart attack, myocardial infarction type 1 is primarily meant. This usually needs to be treated as quickly as possible by immediately opening the affected coronary artery again with a balloon and implanting a stent. "The test works perfectly well to exclude a heart attack, even in high-risk patients," the professor sums up the test results.
How does the 1-hour troponin test work?
The test measures the presence of troponin in the blood. The so-called 1-hour-Troponin-Diagnose-Algorithm recognizes within one hour whether a heart attack actually exists or not. The new test is recommended in the current guidelines of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) for patients with a suspected heart attack. At present the test is to be improved in such a way that it can also differentiate a type I myocardial infarction from a type 2 myocardial infarction. (Vb)