A new test "detects" a heart attack within minutes A new test "detects" a heart attack within minutes

A new test "detects" a heart attack within minutes

A new test "detects" a heart attack within minutes
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A new study, conducted by Imperial College London, has proven that a developed technique based on injecting small gas bubbles into the bloodstream achieves promising results in determining the risk of a heart attack.

Once the bubbles are injected, their movement can be tracked using an ultrasound probe, and if they slow or stop, it could indicate a potentially serious blockage in the bloodstream, the research team explained.

When blood flow to the heart is cut off, it can lead to severe chest pain that indicates a heart attack. 

Patients who suspect a heart attack should have blood tests for a protein called troponin as soon as they arrive at hospital (under NHS guidelines), as these 'heart enzymes' are released in high levels as a result of a heart attack.

After at least 3 hours, patients undergo another troponin test to verify the results of the first test. People with a high troponin score are referred for angiography, in which a special dye is injected (under local anesthesia) into the bloodstream and followed by x-rays. X-rays as they flow around the body, to detect any blood blockages.

The new test, which takes only a few minutes, can speed up the process of detecting clogged arteries.

In the new study, this technique was tested on 4 patients with a history of heart disease. The team mixes thousands of bubbles with a salt water solution to be slowly injected into a vein through a small incision in the patient's arm.

After a few minutes, a handheld ultrasound probe is passed over the patient to monitor the bubbles as they pass through the blood vessels surrounding the heart.

The results of the study, published in the journal Nature Biomedical Engineering, showed that the scan captured all the microscopic bubbles as they moved through the smallest arteries.

Separate tests, using pig hearts, showed that arteries in which bubbles had slowed, stopped, or collected in the middle of the blood vessel (indicating fatty deposits on the walls) were blocked.

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