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article imageThe heart attack monitor that runs on one drop of blood

By Tim Sandle     Jun 4, 2016 in Science
A new, portable device can assess patients for the risk of developing a heart attack by screening a single drop of blood. The test is also five times faster than comparable diagnostic devices.
The new device has been developed by the Dutch company Philips (perhaps better known for consumer electronics like television sets.) the instrument is called the Minicare I-20.
The device works by assessing levels of cardiac troponin I (cTnI). This is a protein released by heart muscle into the blood following a heart attack. Detection of this specific protein informs the healthcare professional of the patient risk and allows appropriate treatment to be administered.
Troponin is a complex of three regulatory proteins (troponin C, troponin I, and troponin T), and they are necessary for muscle contraction in both skeletal muscle and cardiac muscle. Subtypes of troponin (cardiac I) are specific indicators of damage to the heart muscle (myocardium).
Assessing the levels of troponin I in the blood is important to distinguish between patients who complain of chest pains. The test can differentiate between patients up who have unstable angina and those who have myocardial infarction (heart attack.) This allows for the appropriate treatment to be delivered promptly.
Each test requires the use of single test cartridge. Into this a drop of blood for the patient is placed. The blood is screened by the instrument for multiple target molecules at low concentrations. The results of the immunoassay are assessed through special software.
The device is not only portable; it also produces a relatively rapid result. Most instruments running similar tests take around one hour to produce a result. The Philips device provides the result within 10 minutes. The practical use of the device is shown in the video below:
Speaking with medical site QMed, Marcel van Kasteel, CEO of Handheld Diagnostics at Philips remarked: “I am convinced that we will be able to make a real difference for patients and care providers. Minicare I-20 is designed to help care providers reduce both the time-to-treatment and time-to-discharge of patients.”
The device has begun to be sold to hospitals in northern Europe. U.S, approval has yet to be sought. The next application for the instrument will be with neuropsychiatric patients. Here Philips plans to worn with Janssen Pharmaceutica N.V. The device has created a buzz on Twitter within the medical community, and it has received a generally positive reception.
More about Blood, Blood test, Heart attack, Medical Technology
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