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Traditional test poor predictor of heart disease.

Contrary to conventional thinking, a new study suggests that emergency room patients who are relieved of chest pain after taking a nitroglycerine pill are no more likely to be diagnosed with heart disease than those who are not.

The research team--comprised of emergency physicians and cardiologists from the University of California, Davis Medical Center in Sacramento--tested 664 patients, almost evenly split between men (48 percent) and women (52 percent), who arrived at an emergency department complaining of chest pain. Using an 11-point pain intensity scale, researchers measured patients' perceptions of chest pain after they were given nitroglycerin and compared this to their diagnosis of heart disease. No relationship was found.

Nitroglycerin works to relieve chest pain caused by coronary artery disease by relaxing the blood vessels to the heart, thus increasing blood flow and oxygen supply to the heart. For patients without heart disease whose chest pain was reduced by nitroglycerin, researchers suspect the drug may have relieved muscle spasms in the esophagus.
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Publication:Medical Update
Date:May 1, 2005
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