Diagnosing Heart Attacks Before They Strike
Reported January 2010
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- This year, millions of Americans will go to the ER with chest pain, but not all of them will be having a heart attack. When it is the real thing, quick intervention can mean the difference between life and death, but blood tests to confirm a diagnosis take precious time.
Now, researchers are testing a new kind of diagnostic tool. It could confirm you're having a heart attack before you even get to the hospital.
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It happens every 25 seconds.
"When it went down my left arm, I knew then get to the doctor, get to the hospital immediately … you are having a heart attack," Darnell Price, recalled to Ivanhoe.
Two years ago, quick response, diagnosis and surgery saved Price's heart, and her life.
"The thing is you need to move quickly," Price said.
"The faster we can make a diagnosis, the more rapidly we can get that patient to receiving the right therapy," Christie Ballantyne, M.D., director of the Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, explained.
A card is programmed to quickly identify the difference between a heart attack and a false alarm, without a single blood test. It's a nanobiochip, designed by Rice University bioengineer and chemist John McDevitt, Ph.D., to detect the specific biological chemicals that signal a cardiac event.
"This chip is meant to be programmable and to basically change the way medical tests are done now," Dr. McDevitt said.
A swab of saliva taken from the patient in the ambulance or ER goes onto this chip, then into this box. Inside, a small microscope analyzes the sample and records the result in 15 minutes or less.
"Once inside the chip, there are a series of proteins that are collected at strategic spots in the nanobiochip, and if you're having a heart attack, then these little beads light up like a Christmas tree," Dr. McDevitt explained. "|This particular individual is having a heart attack."
It's a new kind of medical test that could speed up diagnosing a heart attack when every minute counts.
In a preliminary clinical trial, the biochip diagnosed heart attacks with the same accuracy as a standard blood test. Researchers believe the same technology could be used for diagnosis and even risk screening for other diseases such as cancer. Dr. McDevitt does have a financial interest in the product. He predicts it will be on the market in about two years.
The Materials Research Society, AVS, the Science and Technology Society, and the American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists contributed to the information contained in the TV portion of this report. This report has also been produced thanks to a generous grant from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation, Inc.
Click here to Go Inside This Science or contact:
John McDevitt, PhD
Houston, TX 77005
American Association of Pharmaceutical Scientists
Materials Research Society
Warrendale, PA 15086-7573
AVS, The Science and Technology Society
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