Saliva may diagnose heart attack in early stages: study

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Washington, Apr 18 (UNI) Early diagnosis of a heart attack may now be possible using only a few drops of saliva and a new 'nano-bio-chip', researchers claim.

The device is the size of a credit card and can produce results in as little as 15 minutes, the study by a multi-institutional team reported.

In the study led by the University of Texas, the patients were asked to spit into a tube and the saliva was then transferred to a credit card-sized lab card that held the nano-bio-chip.

The loaded card was inserted like an ATM card into an analyser, which manipulated the sample and analysed the patient's cardiac status on the spot.

The test could reveal that a patient was currently having a heart attack necessitating quick treatment. It could also tell a patient that they were at high risk of having a future heart attack, the study said.

''Many heart attack victims, especially women, experience non specific symptoms and secure medical help too late after permanent damage to the cardiac tissue has occurred,'' said John T McDevitt of the The University of Texas at Austin, lead researcher and designer of the nano-bio-chip.

''Our tests promise to dramatically improve the accuracy and speed of cardiac diagnosis, '' Science Daily quoted him as saying.

Researchers from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, a co-researcher of the study, tested saliva from 56 people who had a heart attack and 59 healthy subjects for 32 proteins associated with atherosclerosis, thrombosis and acute coronary syndrome.

They found these proteins were in higher concentrations in saliva of heart attack victims, and that specific salivary proteins were as accurate in the diagnosis of heart attack as those found in blood serum using current testing methods.

''These are truly exciting findings, since use of these tests could lead to more rapid diagnosis and faster entry of patients into treatment scenarios that can save lives,'' said Dr Craig S Miller of the Kentucky team.

UNI XC RJ KN1408

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