Heart disease remains the most common cause of death in the UK. Chest pain is often the first
presenting symptom in patients with heart disease, and may be a warning signal prior to a
heart attack or death. The diagnosis based on symptoms alone however is unreliable and
further testing is almost always necessary.
Rapid access chest pain clinics (RACPCs) are able to expedite the assessment of such
patients. The principal investigation used is an exercise stress electrocardiogram (s-ECG).
Although simple, cheap, and convenient, the s-ECG is often inaccurate; missing the diagnosis
or falsely suggesting the diagnosis. This can happen in as many as 25% of patients, resulting
in a delay in treatment or unnecessary further investigation.
CT Angiography (CTA) is a novel non-invasive technique where the coronary arteries can be
visualised by Computerised Tomography. In previous studies it shows a high degree of
correlation with invasive angiography, with a high accuracy for the diagnosis of obstructive
coronary artery disease. However, the technique is relatively new, and its full role is yet
to be defined in the clinical setting of a chest pain clinic. The investigators do not at
present have any information as to whether it is able to speed up the diagnosis, reduce the
need for other tests, and therefore also costs.
In this trial, the investigators aim to examine the accuracy and cost effectiveness of CTA in
patients with suspected cardiac chest pain presenting to a chest pain clinic, when compared
to the more established techniques like s-ECG, myocardial perfusion scanning and coronary
angiography. The study will enable us to establish the optimal and most cost effective
strategy for investigation of patients presenting to chest pain clinics.