Accurate heart attack test developed at our supported hospital

A revolutionary new blood test for detecting heart attacks could speed up diagnosis, help patients get out of hospital more quickly and save the NHS millions of pounds every year, according to new research funded by the British Heart Foundation and us.

The test - which was developed by a team from King's College London, based at Guy's and St Thomas' NHS Foundation Trust -  is quicker than the standard test and can rapidly rule out a heart attack in more people.

It is estimated that over two thirds of people who attend A&E with chest pain have not had a heart attack. But all will receive two tests: a heart test called an ECG and a blood test to measure the levels of a protein called troponin.

Currently, people suspected of having a heart attack are tested for high blood troponin levels as soon as they arrive in an A&E, and again after three hours. Depending on the type of troponin test used, up to 85 per cent of people will need to remain in hospital for further tests in order to rule out a heart attack. The new test uses similar technology to the troponin test, but analyses the level of a protein called cardiac myosin-binding protein C (cMyC). Levels of cMyC in the blood increase more rapidly after a heart attack, and to a higher extent, than troponin, meaning that the test can rule out a heart attack in a higher proportion of patients straight away.

Across the UK an average of 530 people go to hospital every day because of heart attacks. At St Thomas’ Hospital in Central London, where the UK side of the research team are based, they carry out 7,800 heart attack tests each year. If rolled out widely, cMyC could help 2,500 get out of hospital more quickly and save the hospital over £800,000.

Professor Mike Marber, Professor of Cardiology at Kings College London, who was awarded the first BHF Translational Research Grant for the cMyC project, and is head of the UK side of the research, said: "This research is the first of its kind for cMyC. We’ve shown that this test is not only just as good as the current test for working out who has had a heart attack, but it’s also much better at working out who hasn’t. We would love to see this new test rolled out in hospitals in the next five years.”

The test was mainly funded by the British Heart Foundation, and part-funded by ourselves through our Research and Development Fund, as well as the UK Department of Health the Medical Research Council, Swiss National Science Foundation, the European Union, the Cardiovascular Research Foundation Basel and others.