New chest pain diagnostic

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in Australia and chest pain is the biggest single reason people seek medical help from an emergency department. In response to this key health issue, EMF has invested $847,939 into ground-breaking work led by the Royal Brisbane and Women’s Hospital’s (RBWH) Professor Louise Cullen and Professor Will Parsonage.


With EMF funding, Professor Cullen and her research team developed the ‘Improved Assessment of Chest pain Trial’ (ImpACT) Protocol, which allows clinicians to safely accelerate the assessment of up to 70 per cent of patients presenting to emergency with chest pain, and discharge 60 per cent within four hours.

According to Professor Cullen only 15 per cent of emergency department patients with chest pain are suffering from a heart condition.

“Under current protocols, every patient with chest pain must undergo lengthy, intensive and costly assessments, which take between 12 and 24 hours. There is little difference in assessment strategies and costs for the low and intermediate risk patients, resulting in the majority of patients experiencing prolonged hospital stays.

“However, using the ImpACT protocol, emergency physicians can identify patients at risk of heart disease using clinical information and blood tests within two hours after arriving in the emergency department.”

ImpACT was adopted by the RBWH Emergency Department in 2014. Queensland Health is funding its pilot at the Cairns Hospital in 2017, and if this is successful, the protocol will be rolled out across Queensland.

In trials, the diagnostic was shown to reduce the length of hospitalisation for most chest pain patients from 25 to eight hours. This could free up thousands of bed days per year and reduce the cost of diagnosis.

Key researchers: Professor Louise Cullen and Dr Will Parsonage

Read more about the ImpACT research:

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