New tests can diagnose hidden heart diseases, according to research by the Golden Jubilee National Hospital.

Researchers from the University of Glasgow and Golden Jubilee National Hospital performed the “small vessel” test by passing a thin, flexible wire into the heart and measuring how well a blood vessel relaxes.

The study involved 151 patients with chest pain who could not be diagnosed using current tests.

The team found the new test was able to correctly diagnose four times as many patients as standard tests.

More importantly, six months later, symptoms of angina were reduced and quality of life better in the patients whose care was guided by the small vessel tests compared to patients whose standard care was guided by the angiogram.

Chest pain originating from the heart is often a symptom of angina, a condition triggered when the heart does not receive enough oxygen-rich blood, often due to narrowed arteries.

It often happens during exercise, cold weather and emotional stress and points to an underlying problem in the heart.

Professor Colin Berry, director of research at the Golden Jubilee Foundation and Chair in Cardiology and Imaging at the University of Glasgow, said: “Microvascular angina and vasospastic angina are under-recognised problems. As the angiogram in these patients looks clear, they may be falsely reassured. Our study’s results indicate this to be the case.

“However, leaving microvascular angina and vasospastic angina undiagnosed and untreated presents a risk to patient wellbeing. These problems can be a precursor to a hospitalisation for chest pain and a heart attack, and symptoms persist in the longer term.

“We now hope to see this test rolled out across the country.”

Mike Higgins, medical director at the Golden Jubilee said: “Once again our team at the Golden Jubilee are leading the way in cardiovascular research.

“Heart disease in Scotland remains one of the leading causes of death and our team are committed to improve the lives of, not just the people of Scotland, but also worldwide. This exceptional research study will make a huge difference to how we diagnose and care for patients with chest pain.”