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Simple chest pain test can help ER doctors safely discharge patients

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

A recent study has found that a simple, inexpensive test may help doctors determine whether it is safe to discharge a patient who has been admitted to an emergency room with chest pains.

The assessment, known as the coronary artery calcium scoring (CACS) test, is capable of detecting coronary artery disease with a computerized tomography (CT) scan, which provides doctors with detailed images of the heart that show calcium build up in the coronary arteries.

In the study, researchers from the Methodist DeBakey Heart and Vascular Institute examined more than 1,000 chest pain patients and found that those with a CACS score of zero were able to be sent home safely, Health Day News reports. Approximately 61 percent of those examined had a CACS of zero.

"Diagnosing chest pain is often expensive and time-consuming," said principal investigator John Mahmarian, a cardiologist at the Institute. "This new data could save millions of healthcare dollars and countless hours spent waiting on unnecessary tests."

A CACS of zero was also able to predict a normal single photon emission computed tomography (SPECT) scan, which is a more advanced and costly imaging test, according to NewsMedical.net.
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