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Study shows emergency physicians have good first instincts in diagnosing heart attacks
Date:7/23/2008

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. A study out of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center demonstrates emergency room doctors are correctly identifying patients who are having a heart attack, even when laboratory tests haven't yet confirmed it.

The study used data from a registry called i*trACS, and analyzed patients with heart attack symptoms who were admitted to emergency departments (EDs) in eight participating U.S. centers.

The findings were released today in the Emergency Medicine Journal.

"One of the most common complaints we see in the Emergency Department is chest pain," said Chadwick Miller, M.D., lead author and assistant professor of emergency medicine at Wake Forest Baptist. "That's why it is so important to figure out if we're doing a good job of diagnosing and treating heart attacks, or if there's a better way to do it."

The patients in the registry were divided into three groups: no myocardial infarction (No MI), non-ST segment elevation myocardial infarction (NSTEMI), or evolving myocardial infarction (EMI).

The groups were determined by a blood test that measured levels of the protein troponin, which increases when the heart muscle is damaged from a heart attack.

Patients classified as No MI may have had symptoms but, according to the troponin levels throughout their hospital stay, did not actually have a heart attack. Patients classified as NSTEMI showed elevated troponin levels when first admitted, usually because their heart attack happened several hours or even days before coming to the ED. Patients classified as EMI did not initially show elevated troponin levels when presenting to the ED, but showed evidence of heart damage up to 12 hours later.

The study focused primarily on EMI patients. When a patient was admitted into the ED with heart attack symptoms, doctors at centers participating in the i*trACS registry would record their initial impressions of the symptoms exhibit
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Contact: Shannon Koontz
shkoontz@wfubmc.edu
336-716-2415
Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center
Source:Eurekalert

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