Israeli ‘Spit Test’ Detects Heart Attacks in a Matter of Min
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Israeli researchers say a new saliva test could fast track heart attack diagnosis, the European Society of Cardiology reported.

The innovative technique requires patients to spit into a tube and provides results in 10 minutes, compared to at least one hour for the standard blood test.

Diagnosis of heart attacks is based on symptoms (such as chest pain), an electrocardiogram (ECG) and a blood test for cardiac troponin, a protein released into the blood when the heart muscle is injured.

The purpose of the study was to see if cardiac troponin could be detected in the saliva of patients with heart muscle injury.

A total of 32 patients with heart muscle injury (i.e. they had a positive cardiac troponin blood test) and 13 healthy volunteers were requested to provide saliva samples by spitting into a collecting tube. Then, half of each sample was processed, and the other half remained in its natural state.

The researchers compared the results from the saliva samples (processed and unprocessed) with the blood samples. There was strong agreement between the blood findings and the processed saliva, but not saliva in its natural state.

Some 84% of the processed saliva samples tested positive for troponin, compared to just 6% of the unprocessed saliva.

Among healthy participants, no cardiac troponin was detected in the processed and unprocessed saliva samples.

Study author Dr. Roi Westreich of Soroka University Medical Centre, Beer Sheva, Israel said: “This early work shows the presence of cardiac troponin in the saliva of patients with myocardial injury. The test will be calibrated to show positive results when saliva troponin levels are higher than a certain threshold and show a yes/no result like a pregnancy test.”

Further research is needed to determine how long troponin stays in the saliva after a heart attack. In addition, we need to know how many patients would erroneously be diagnosed with a heart attack and how many cases would be missed.

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