A new blood test to rule out heart attack in people with chest pain could reduce hospital costs.
Until now there were no quick ways to rule out a heart attack in patients admitted to the emergency department.
Developed by Edinburgh researchers, the test measures blood levels of a protein called troponin that is released by damaged heart cells.
The higher the level of troponin present, the more likely it is that a person has had - or is likely to go on to have - a heart attack.
Our study shows that low heart troponin concentrations identify up to two-thirds of patients who are at very low risk of heart attack and could be safely discharged. These findings could dramatically reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and provide substantial cost savings.
Over the past two decades the number of hospital admissions attributable to chest pain has tripled, but most are not linked to heart attack.
The Edinburgh study analysed troponin levels in the blood of more than 6,000 patients admitted to four hospitals in Scotland and the US.
The results were used to determine which patients are at low risk of heart attack - either during their admission or in the next 30 days.
The research is published in The Lancet and funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) and The Chief Scientist Office.