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New Test May Trim Time Off Diagnosing Heart Attacks In The Future

Armen Hareyan's picture

A new saliva test may one day be handy for anyone to be able to tell if someone is having a heart attack. The quicker a person is diagnosed with a heart attack the better the odds that they can survive.

"Proteins found in the saliva have the ability to rapidly classify potential heart attacks," Dr. John T. McDevitt, a biochemist at the University of Texas at Austin, told Reuters Health.

Currently it can take about an hour and a half for some victims of heart attacks to be diagnosed. That gives a longer amount of time for damage of the heart to take place.

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The one's at risk for delayed diagnoses are often women who do not always present with the symptoms of a heart attack. Women can also have normal EKG readings even during heart problems.

"In our small trial, we had about one third of the patients with these...silent heart attacks on EKG." These patients need to go the emergency department and have their blood drawn and tested for enzymes that are indicative of a heart attack, "which could take an hour to an hour and a half," explained Dr. John T. McDevitt, a biochemist at the University of Texas at Austin, told Reuters Health.

The saliva test has a person spit into a tube and the saliva is transferred into a credit card sized lab card that holds a standard battery of cardiac biomarkers. The card is then inserted into an analyzer as simply as one would insert a bank card into an ATM. The heart status can be determined in as little as 15 minutes.

A study that involved 56 people who had a heart attack and a control group of 59 who had not produced results that compare to standard testing that is in place now.