Scientists have developed a rapid algorithm that can safely and effectively identify whether a patient is undergoing a heart attack. Patients with symptoms of heart attack or acute myocardial infarction (AMI) account for about 10 per cent of all emergency department consultations, researchers said. Rapidly identifying AMI, which may be life-threatening,can help initiate treatments in time. The system allows the timely detection and treatment of alternative causes of acute chest pain — many of which are benign, in which case patients can be reassured and sent home. The study evaluated the diagnostic performance of the algorithm using pooled data from 4,350 patients, who came to emergency departments with with acute chest pain. Researchers, including those from University Hospital Basel in Switzerland, found that the algorithm was safe and effective. It correctly identified patients who were eligible for coronary angiography, and those who were not under going heart attack over 99 per cent of the time. “With this large multi-centre analysis using central adjudication we were able to address concerns regarding the suitability of the algorithm for routine clinical care,” said Raphael Twerenbold, from the Cardiovascular Research Institute Basel in Switzerland. “Safety was excellent in the largest ever tested population of patients presenting within the first three hours after chest pain onset,” said Twerenbold.