Blood test to help detect heart attacks receives FDA approvalCompiled from Times wires
© St. Petersburg Times
published February 15, 2003
WASHINGTON -- Doctors have won federal approval of a new blood test to help them tell which patients suffering chest pain aren't really having a heart attack.
Making that diagnosis can be surprisingly difficult.
Up to 5-million people go to U.S. emergency rooms each year complaining of chest pain, but only about one in five is having a heart attack, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The FDA approved a simple blood test Friday that could greatly improve doctors' ability to rule out a heart attack and send those patients home sooner. The test uses the metal cobalt to hunt changes in a blood protein that occur during a heart attack.
But the new test must be used with standard heart-attack tests. It's far from perfect, so using it alone could prove deadly, said Dr. Steven Gutman, the FDA's head of clinical tests.
IBUPROFEN: Fresh evidence adds to suspicions that ibuprofen could be dangerous for most heart patients because it can block the blood-thinning benefits of aspirin.
New research published this week in the Lancet medical journal found that those taking both aspirin and ibuprofen were twice as likely to die during the study period as those who were taking aspirin alone or with other types of common pain relievers.
Dr. Tom MacDonald, who led the Lancet study, said taking the odd ibuprofen for a few days would not be a problem. PACEMAKERS: Special pacemakers designed to correct a defect that affects close to 2-million heart failure patients in the United States can also prolong their lives, an analysis led by a Johns Hopkins Hospital cardiologist found.
While such pacemakers have been shown to improve quality of life and exercise capacity, their effects on survival had been unclear.
By pooling the results of four recent studies involving 1,634 patients, the researchers found that the devices reduced the death rate from heart failure by 51 percent among heart failure patients.
The devices are intended for about one-third of the 5-million Americans with heart failure who also have pumping problems caused by an electrical "short-circuit" in the heart.
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From the Times wire desk
From the AP