Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Can Saliva Help Diagnose Heart Attack Faster?

When one is having a heart attack, timely treatment is very critical as this may decide whether he or she can survive. However, not all patients with syndromes like chest pain or cold sweat actually suffer heart attack. Likewise, many heart attack patients, especially women, show non-specific symptoms or have normal EKG readings. Therefore, timely diagnosis can be very difficult.

In April 2008, researchers from the University of Texas at Austin pointed out that a simple saliva test may one day be used to determine swiftly if a person is having heart attack because of the proteins found in the saliva. Such test can be used not only in ambulances but also in restaurants, drug stores and other places in the community.

A nano-bio-chip sensor was developed by the researchers. It is biochemically programmed to detect sets of proteins in saliva, which could determine if a person is currently having a heart attack or is at high risk of having a heart attack in the near future.

What the potential victim needs to do is to spit into a tube and the saliva is then transferred to credit-card-sized lab card, which holds the nano-bio-chip containing a standard battery of cardiac biomarkers. Then, the card is inserted into an analyzer to determine the patient's heart status in as little as 15 minutes.

56 people who had a heart attack and 59 healthy controls who did not were involved in a study. It was found that the test could actually distinguish heart attack patients from controls, with about the same diagnostic accuracy as that of standard blood tests.

In fact, there were about one third of the patients showing silent heart attack symptoms on EKG. These patients were required to admit to the emergency department to have blood test for enzymes that are indicative of a heart attack. The results of the test could be known after an hour to an hour and a half.

The saliva test could be used together with the EKG. This would help diagnosing those heart attacks that are silent on EKG. Meanwhile, larger and more refined studies on the saliva test have been planned.

No comments:

Post a Comment