A prospective study was made of sequential changes in serum creatine kinase (CK) and CK-MB isoenzyme activity within the 12 hours following admission to the coronary care unit on 65 patients with recent chest pain. CK determinations were performed in the laboratory or in the coronary care unit using a dry reagent strip analyser. Slope values for log CK/hour and log CK-MB/hour were calculated, used to confirm or exclude the diagnosis of myocardial infarction, and compared with diagnosis by conventional means. Compared with retrospective diagnosis using all available information, the CK slope had a sensitivity of 100% and a specificity of 94%. This compared with a sensitivity of 94% and specificity of 90% for diagnosis using upper reference limits alone. Determination of CK slope permits very rapid and accurate biochemical confirmation or exclusion of myocardial infarction and the possibility of performing the measurements on the coronary care unit. It additionally offers the prospect of major cost savings resulting from early discharge or transfer from the coronary care unit.
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