ECGs no better at protecting heart than chat with a doctor

Discussion in 'Fibromyalgia Main Forum' started by tansy, Nov 13, 2008.

  1. tansy

    tansy New Member

    David Rose The Times

    Patients who suffer chest pains may be dying unnecessarily because a commonly used test is not good enough to pick up the warning signs of heart disease, according to researchers.

    Doctors at the London Chest Hospital found that, of 4,873 patients given an electrocardiogram (ECG) scan when reporting chest pains, almost half (47 per cent) went on to suffer a “coronary event” – such as a heart attack – despite a “negative” result that did not pick up any abnormalities.

    Professor Adam Timmis and colleagues said that their findings suggested that “exercise” ECGs, which record the electrical impulses produced by the heart’s rhythm and are typically conducted on a treadmill, “are limited in how accurately they predict the risk of future heart disease”.

    They found that routine clinical assessments by doctors provided almost as much information about future heart problems.

    Alternatives to the ECG tests are needed to identify the most vulnerable people complaining of chest pain, the study, published online by the British Medical Journal, suggested.

    A wider group of 8,176 patients were given an ECG while resting, but this also showed no additional benefit compared with a medical examination and assessment of family history.

    Professor Timmis said: “Our study emphasises the importance of the clinical assessment for prognosis in patients with suspected angina. A prerequisite of any new test should be the demonstration of its incremental value over clinical assessment if risk stratification is to be improved and the potential for chest pain clinics to reduce coronary mortality is to be fully realised.”

    Mike Knapton, of the British Heart Foundation, said: “This study confirms that the best way to diagnose a patient is to talk through their symptoms and medical history with their doctor.”