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“Am I Having A Heart Attack?” A New Self-Test Kit

Home-Heart-Attack-Self-Test-Kit“Am I having a heart attack?” From the files of the strange and unusual comes this self-test kit for myocardial infarction, otherwise known as a heart attack.

For the lay people out there, a heart attack occurs when bloodflow to the heart muscle stops, usually because of a blockage in the arteries around the heart (coronary arteries).  (It’s what happened to Bill Clinton, although his heart muscle didn’t die, as it likely had collateral bloodflow from other arteries.) When bloodflow stops, the heart muscle dies. When the heart muscle cells die, they release compounds into the bloodstream which can then be detected on blood draws.

That is the basis for detecting a heart attack by drawing blood. There are some compounds that are specific to the heart, such as troponins that will only go up when the heart muscle is dying. Other enzymes, such as the CK go up with any muscle damage, including the heart.

That is the basis of this new self-test kit for heart attack testing from China Sky One Medical that tries to answer the “Am I having a heart attack?” question at home. It was approved in China in 2007 and recently received European Union clearance as well. 

From medGadget:

The AMI diagnostic kit can be used by consumers for the early diagnosis of myocardial infarction. It requires the user to place a blood sample on a marker after which a plus or minus sign will appear, indicating whether the user should seek medical attention.

I can just see it now: 

Scenario #1: Patient watching Oprah. Patient starts having chest pain. Patient gets out her home heart attack self-test kit. Patient lances finger and places blood onto strip. Plus sign shows up. Patient can’t remember if this was a pregnancy test or the heart attack kit. Patient goes to the emergency room stating she’s either pregnant or having a heart attack. Patient gets triage into the psychiatry wing and the hospitalist gets called to see a “soft admission” for psychosis.

Scenario #2:  Patient watching Oprah. Patient having chest pain. Patient gets out her home heart attack self-test kit. Patient lances finger and places blood onto strip. Negative sign shows up. Patient refuses to believe she isn’t having a life threatening heart attack. She does it again. It’s still negative. Patient angry now that she isn’t having a heart attack and decides to go to the emergency room anyway because she says she’s having a heart attack. Patient is now angry that nobody believes she’s having a heart attack and strikes out at the nurses. Hospitalist gets asked to come see a soft hospital admission for psychosis.

I can’t see these kits offering any benefit to patients. For hospitalists, it’s job security.

*This blog post was originally published at The Happy Hospitalist*

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