Electrocardiograms (EKGs or ECGs) measure electrical waves in the heart. An important wave pattern for diagnosing a heart attack is ST elevations. Elevated ST segments suggest a blocked coronary artery and that the heart muscle is damaged. But not all heart attack victims have elevated ST segments.
Blood tests screen for abnormally elevated levels of enzymes and proteins that indicate heart cells have begun to die. But according to the American Heart Association, these enzymes don't show an increase above normal until about 6 hours after a heart attack starts. They peak in about 18 hours and return to normal in 24 to 36 hours.
What You Can Do
If you're in the Emergency Room because of heart attack symptoms and the initial tests suggest you're not having an attack, insist that you stay in the hospital longer for additional observation. It literally could save your life.
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