Friday, July 11, 2008
Speed and time play a critical role when it comes to diagnosing and treating patients with suspected heart attacks.
Now, in a step to advance the evaluation of chest pain patients,
Trident Health System has launched a new initiative intended to accelerate the rate at which the doctors can accurately and efficiently diagnose patients with suspected heart attacks.
“Time is muscle. The longer we wait to treat, the more the heart muscle is damaged and every minute can make a significant difference in the patient’s life,” said Dr. Baird Oldfield, Emergency Medicine Physician at Trident Health System.
“Therefore, earlier diagnosis can play a critical role in helping us streamline the process of evaluating our chest pain patients, thus enabling faster and more effective treatment, which leads to better and more timely care.”
To improve diagnosis, physicians are using an accelerated care pathway that calls for repeated measurements of three cardiac markers over a period of several hours.
The markers are emitted into a patient’s bloodstream when heart muscle damage occurs. By monitoring increases and declines in the marker levels, physicians can accurately determine whether a heart attack has occurred.
To enable rapid testing of cardiac markers, Trident Health System, has implemented the Triage® Cardiac System, manufactured by Biosite® Incorporated. The 15-minute blood test measures the levels of CK-MB, myoglobin and troponin I.
The portable device is small enough to be used near the patient, ensuring that diagnostic information is readily accessible.
Traditionally, the doctor will diagnose a patient with suspected heart attack using established World Health Organization (WHO) criteria based on two of the following criteria: a positive electrocardiogram (ECG), patient history and measurements of serum cardiac markers.
However, patient history is highly-subjective and electrocardiograms are non-diagnostic in at least half of all the heart attacks. Therefore, monitoring the level of cardiac makers can play a critical role in helping physicians diagnose heart attacks.
An estimated ten million Americans visit hospital emergency rooms each year exhibiting symptoms of a heart attack.
However, a patient experiencing chest pain is not necessarily having a heart attack. Between two and 13 percent of all acute heart attacks are misdiagnosed, and the patients are inappropriately discharged – with a subsequent mortality rate of nearly twenty-five percent. According to American Heart Association, the cost of treating patients with coronary heart disease in the United States in 2005 is estimated at more than $142 billion.