In the United States, over 100 million people visit the emergency department annually. Approximately 9% of these visits are for the evaluation of chest pain or shortness of breath. Chest pain might signify the severe narrowing of the arteries that disrupts the normal blood flow to the heart muscle, producing a problem known as acute coronary syndrome (ACS).
Shortness of breath can mean the presence of blood clots in the lung, or pulmonary embolism (PE). Both conditions are of major concern to patients and to physicians as they are the #1 and #2 causes of sudden unexpected death in young, ambulatory patients. As a result, physicians expend excessive time and resources evaluating these two conditions.
Current technologies require the use of expensive specialized x-ray tests that require hours, or in many cases, an overnight stay in the hospital to perform as well as the use of an expensive radiologist. Many of the tests also involve exposing patients to ionizing radiation, or the injection of contrast dye.
Over 80% of patients who are evaluated for both of these problems end up with negative tests, creating excess cost in the medical system. As a result, the healthcare system is expending over $3 billion unnecessarily evaluating for ACS and PE.