Henry Mayo announces new blood test that detects heart attacks faster

Doctor Bud Lawrence M.D. gives details about a new High Sensitivity Troponin blood test that can detect heart attack in patients in three hours versus the standard fifteen hours test during a press conference held at the Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Education Center on Wednesday, November 28, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal.

Now patients of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital with heart attack symptoms will have a faster, more accurate gauge on how severe their potential cardiac condition is, thanks to a new blood test.

The new high-sensitivity troponin blood test detects heart attacks up to three times faster, doctors said at the Henry Mayo Center on Wednesday. Now patients can get results in three hours, when the norm before was an average of 15 hours, said Bud Lawrence, M.D,, medical director of Henry Mayo’s emergency department.

The hospital is the first in Los Angeles County and one of the few around the country to offer the new test, Dr. Lawrence said, although it has been studied in Europe and is considered cutting edge.

“We give patients a HEART score, which is a standardized risk-stratification tool along with this troponin test, and in one hour of getting the test back we can know with a high degree of confidence whether or not they had a heart attack,” he said. “If the answer is no, we can now send those patients home, as opposed to the old days when they’d have to stay in the hospital and we’d have to do more blood tests.”

The test also detects troponin levels with different values between men and women, said cardiologist Shahe Garabedian, M.D. Men have higher levels of troponin in their blood streams compared to women, so different norms are measured in the new test that were not accounted for in its previous renditions.

Dr. Garabedian said for a certain group of low-risk patients, if onset of symptoms are greater than 6 hours, , then they administer one troponin test that can accurately determine whether or not they have had a heart attack. If they have been experiencing symptoms for less than six hours, then two draws are needed. Before, patients would have to do multiple draws even if they had had pain for a long time, he said.

Laboratory supervisor Greg Gibbs, who oversaw the validations to run the test before it was approved for use, said the internal studies to approve the new test began in early 2018. It was implemented at the hospital earlier this month.

“It’s the same mechanism as before, we’re testing for the same thing,” he said. “But it’s the sensitivity of the test.”

Now, with the new high sensitivity blood test, patients can also spend less time in the hospital because they can accurately gauge their results much sooner, said cardiovascular program manager Tamar Avakian.

“This new assay allows us to do ‘rapid rule out,’ with much shorter intervals for testing,” she said. “This new protocol helps us evaluate patients more efficiently, in order to provide the safest and best care possible.”

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