This is Science Today. Six percent of all heart attack
patients in the United States have a condition called
left bundle-branch block. This occurs when an electrical
current can't pass through a small area of damaged
heart tissue and ultimately results in very inaccurate
ECG readings. Dr. Michael Shlipak, a researcher at
the University of California, San Francisco, says
these skewed results make it hard to accurately diagnose
and treat heart attacks in these patients.
The current standard of care recommended by the American
Heart Association is that if the patient with left
bundle is suspected of having a heart attack, they
should be then treated with either thrombolytic therapy
But this doesn't happen often. Since 1996, many doctors
began using a mathematical formula developed for the
ECG, which claimed to detect over 70% of left bundle
patients having a heart attack. In a recent validation
study however, Shlipak's results were far different.
The test only picked up about ten percent. To treat
all of them with thrombolytic therapy as recommended
by the current standard of care was by far the best
Narrator: For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.