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Hospital or Home?
Story Updated: Apr 17, 2012
A noninvasive heart test could help many people with chest pain avoid a stay in the hospital.
Most people who go to the emergency room with symptoms of a possible heart attack are admitted to the hospital. Doctors want to make sure they're not having a serious heart problem Ð and in most cases, they aren't.
A new study finds that a test called coronary CT angiography can help these people get back home more quickly.
The researchers included nearly 1,400 people with symptoms of a heart attack or other sudden heart problem. However, their doctors suspected that they probably weren't having a heart attack. Some received usual medical care and some received the CT test. This test involves using a CT scan to look at arteries in the heart.
Those who received the scan were twice as likely to leave the emergency room instead of going into the hospital compared to those who didn't get the scan. They also spent fewer hours being tested.
And among the people who had a scan that didn't find heart problems, none died or had a heart attack in the following month. As the authors point out, this test does involve radiation, so it's not something to be used lightly.
But it may help treat certain patients more efficiently and send them home faster.
I'm Dr. Cindy Haines of HealthDay TV, with the news that doctors are reading; health news that matters to you.