One person's heart attack can be very different from another's. Experts now define six different types of heart attack, reports the February 2013 Harvard Heart Letter. Identifying the cause of an attack helps determine the best way to treat it.
Because heart attack symptoms can differ from person to person, diagnosing one requires the combination of a doctor's judgment, signs and symptoms, and test results, such as changes in the heart's electrical activity seen on an electrocardiogram. Experts now also advise using a blood test for troponin, a protein released by damaged heart muscle cells.
The latest guidelines for diagnosing a heart attack call for a troponin level that is substantially higher than normal, plus one or more of the following:
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