New test for detecting heart attacks

The test uses a computer algorithm and blood test to determine if someone is having a heart attack.
The test uses a computer algorithm and blood test to determine if someone is having a heart attack.

A new test could help emergency department doctors to better detect heart attacks in their patients.

Australian and British researchers have developed a new computer algorithm that works along with a blood test to determine if someone is having a heart attack.

Their study on the algorithm, published in the scientific journal Circulation on Wednesday, showed improved diagnosis speed and accuracy.

Currently, patients have to take a cardiogram and blood test, with doctors referring to a patient's history or symptoms.

The study said by only using objective information - age, sex and the blood test - the algorithm also removed bias creeping into a diagnosis.

By punching in patient characteristics, along with a blood test, the computer was able to diagnose a patient's heart attack risk as low or high.

The algorithm also helps predict the risk of heart attacks over the next 30 days.

The study said the computer was trained to estimate an individual patient's risk, creating a more focused diagnosis.

Study author Dr Louise Cullen, an emergency physician at Royal Brisbane and Women's Hospital, said the research drew on data from patients across the globe.

"This is a big step into the healthcare of the future," Dr Cullen said.

Australian Associated Press