Heart attacks going undiagnosed in women?

  • Priyanka Vora, Hindustan Times, Mumbai
  • Updated: Mar 28, 2015 21:52 IST

Conventional tests failed to detect heart attacks in one out of every 10 women who had a cardiac condition, a study done in Mumbai has revealed.

The study, conducted by Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani hospital, Andheri, said women have a greater risk of being under-diagnosed of heart attacks, if doctors don’t use a gender-specific diagnostic test. The conventional test, called Troponin I test, detects the levels of troponin – a protein released by damaged heart muscles – in blood, to find out if there has been a heart attack.

Doctors who conducted the study looked at data from 200 patients who came to the hospital’s emergency department with complaints of chest pain. They found that women had lower troponin levels that could not be detected by the conventional test.

The more sensitive Troponin I (hsTnI) test is gender-specific and can detect lower levels of troponin.

Dr Barnali Das, consultant with the hospital’s Biochemistry and Immunology division, said, “Using a single diagnostic threshold (for both men and women) may lead to under-diagnosis of acute coronary syndrome in women in the Indian population.”

A study conducted among 1,126 patients admitted to the Royal Infirmary of Edinburgh hospital, recently concluded that using a gender-specific diagnostic threshold with high sensitive tests to detect troponin levels may double the diagnosis of heart condition in women.

“Half of the women who complained of chest pain arising out of a heart attack were sent home as their troponin levels were satisfactory as per the contemporary tests. In other words, the sensitive test doubled the diagnosis of heart attack in women,” said Dr Anoop Shah, author of the study.

According to Shah, the reason for lower troponin levels in women could be the smaller size of their hearts.

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