Heart Health

12 February 2010

Quick Chest Pain Test Simplifies Discharge Decision

CT scan lets doctors see any blockage in arteries, study finds


This article has not necessarily been edited by Health24.

THURSDAY, Feb. 11 (HealthDay News) -- A simple, inexpensive test can tell doctors whether it's safe to discharge a patient who has come to the emergency room with chest pain, a new study shows.

The coronary artery calcium scoring (CACS) test detects coronary artery disease. A CT scan is used to quickly provide doctors with a detailed image of the heart that shows calcium build-up in the coronary arteries.

This study of 1,031 chest pain patients found that those with a CACS score of zero can be safely sent home without further heart testing. Of the patients in the study, 61 percent had a CACS of zero.

"It is imperative to accurately diagnose patients who come to the emergency department with chest pain. Unfortunately, diagnosing chest pain is often expensive and time-consuming. This new data could save millions of health-care dollars and countless hours spent waiting on unnecessary tests," principal investigator Dr. John Mahmarian, a cardiologist at the Methodist DeBakey Heart & Vascular Institute in Houston, said in a news release.

The study was published online Feb. 8 in the Annals of Emergency Medicine.

More information

The MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia has more about chest pain.


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