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Blood test could identify women at risk of heart attacks earlier

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A high-sensitivity blood test could double the number of diagnoses for heart attacks in women, a study published in the BMJ says.

The study evaluated 622 men and 504 women who were admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh with a suspected heart attack. The participants were tested for levels of troponin, a protein associated with the onset of a heart attack. The results of this high-sensitivity test were then compared with the standard test for a heart attack.

The study discovered that the high-sensitivity test doubled the number of accurate diagnoses of heart attacks for women, which brought the proportion of women diagnosed with the men. There was no noticeable change in the number of men diagnosed using the high sensitivity test.

Dr Anoop Shah, clinical lecturer in cardiology at the University of Edinburgh, and one of the study's authors, said: 'Our findings suggest one reason for the difference in heart attack diagnosis rates of men and women is that we, as doctors, may have been using a threshold for troponin testing that is too high in women.'

Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the British Heart Foundation, said: 'If these results are confirmed in the much larger clinical trial we're funding, these results suggest that using a high sensitivity troponin test, with a threshold specific to each gender, could save many more women's lives by identifying them earlier.'

The researchers intend to carry out a larger study of over 26,000 patients to assess how the high-sensitivity test for troponin could affect patient outcomes.

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