Heart blood test pilot's success

Image caption, Natriuretic Peptides measuring is carried out at Ysbyty Gwynedd, Bangor

A new blood test which GPs can use to rule out heart failure in patients without a hospital referral has been successfully piloted in Gwynedd and Anglesey.

Usually patients are referred for an echocardiogram (ECG) but the new test looks at levels of a hormone called Natriuretic Peptides (NP).

Low levels of NP mean GPs can safely discount heart failure.

The tests are now being extended to include surgeries in Conwy.

They are seen as more convenient for patients, as they provided a quicker result and prevent an anxious wait, and are less expensive.

'Such benefits'

"NP blood testing is a simple way to dramatically increase the effectiveness of a community-based heart failure diagnostic service," said Dr Graham Thomas, a GP with special interest in community cardiology and echocardiography.

"It is difficult to think of any other service development that has such benefits both to patients, as most can quickly be reassured that they do not have a life-threatening condition, and clinicians who can work far more effectively," he added.

The measuring of NP levels is being carried out at the department of clinical biochemistry at Ysbyty Gwynedd in Bangor.

Avril Wayte, consultant biochemist and clinical lead for clinical biochemistry at the Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, said: "Ysbyty Gwynedd's laboratory is the first in Wales to offer this test in this way the health board already plant to offer the test to GPs in Conwy," she said.

"There is also the potential to expand the services to cover the whole of north Wales in the near future," she added.

She said the test was far more costly than those usually performed at the laboratory but the benefit to patients, and the savings that can be made by reducing the need for ECG's mean it is an excellent development.

"It is a good example of how laboratories and doctors can work together to improve patient care," she said.

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