New Test Helps Rule Out Heart Attack

Cobalt measurement has high accuracy rate for chest pain

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FRIDAY, Feb. 14, 2003 (HealthDayNews) -- The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new test that will significantly help doctors rule out a heart attack when a person is suffering severe chest pain.

The Albumin Cobalt Binding (ACB) Test measures how much of the mineral cobalt is bound to a blood protein called albumin. In people with normal albumin, more cobalt is bound to the protein, so less cobalt is detected by the test. If more cobalt is detected by the test, it does not necessarily mean the patient has suffered a heart attack, however.

The ACB test must be used with an electrocardiogram (ECG) and another blood test to rule out a heart attack. If all three tests are normal, doctors can be reasonably sure that the patient has not suffered a heart attack.

As many as 5 million people visit emergency rooms each year with symptoms of a heart attack, but only about 22 percent of those actually do have a heart attack. Chest pain and other symptoms can also be caused by indigestion, hernia, pneumonia, gallstones and hepatitis, the FDA says.

The test, manufactured by Ischemia Technologies Inc., was cleared by the FDA based on clinical trials involving 200 people at high risk of heart attack who complained of severe chest pain. When the ACB test was used with the ECG and the other blood test, doctors were 70 percent accurate in ruling out a heart attack. Without the ACB test, doctors were only 50 percent accurate in ruling out a heart attack.

For more information about diagnosing a heart attack and other forms of heart disease, visit The National Women's Health Information Center.

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