A new, more sensitive blood test could help doctors identify twice as many heart attacks in women, according to research funded by the British Heart Foundation.

The current standard blood test, used by the NHS to identify whether a patient complaining of chest pain is having a heart attack, only detects the highest levels of troponin in patients, the type of protein which is present when a person suffers a heart attack. However, the test is failing to identify many cases in female patients, according to research from Edinburgh’s Royal Infirmary.

The research found that twice as many men as women were diagnosed as having a heart attack using the standard test, but, when a more sensitive test was used, the number of women diagnosed with suffering a heart attack doubled from 55 to 111.

Those patients who were identified using the more sensitive test were more susceptible to suffering from a second or fatal heart attack.

According to researcher Dr Anoop Shah, doctors can often rule out a heart attack if a blood test shows a negative result, which may result in a patient not receiving the appropriate treatment. A more sensitive method of testing women would help to ensure that they receive the most suitable course of treatment.

Roberta Pyle, a senior clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Newcastle office said: “A heart attack is a very serious condition which can prove to be life changing or in the very worst cases, fatal. Improvements in diagnostic techniques are crucial in ensuring patients receive the best possible treatment when the consequences of misdiagnosis and delay can have very serious consequences.

“The British Heart Foundation has already committed to funding further research into this area. However, the government cannot expect to rely on charities to ensure NHS hospitals are equipped with the best methods of diagnosis and treatment, and should commit to providing sufficient funding and resources.”