Finger Stick Blood Test Detects Early Signs of Heart Attack Before it Occurs – Critical Care

Image: Microdevice designed to detect blood clots may pick up early signs of heart attack (Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

Image: Microdevice designed to detect blood clots may pick up early signs of heart attack (Photo Courtesy of Pexels)

Heart attacks and strokes are the world’s leading cause of death. Many are caused by blood clots that block blood flow to the heart, often in at-risk individuals without any physical warning. However, long before a heart attack or stroke occurs, small changes in the blood begin to take place. Often, blood flow is disrupted, leading to blood clotting and inflammation that can clog blood vessels. Now researchers are developing a biomedical microdevice to detect these subtle changes in platelets before a heart attack or stroke occurs.

Using a pinprick test, the microdevice developed by scientists at the University of Sydney (Sydney, Australia) would take a blood sample from a person’s finger. The sample would then be analyzed for platelet clotting and white cell inflammatory responses, information that would be immediately processed by an external operating system. The scientists will undertake further technical development for the microdevice, which is based on an integrated microfluidic chip. The team is also building highly sensitive computational fluid dynamics simulations to better understand the impact of mechanical forces that can lead to blood pooling and clots.

“How this device would work is that a person at risk, say someone with a heart condition, would use it on a daily basis. Using a fingerstick test, the device would monitor their blood and alert them to potentially dangerous changes. If a change was detected, they would they should present for more monitoring in a hospital,” said Dr. Arnold Lining Ju, an award-winning biomedical engineer from the University of Sydney’s Nano Institute and School of Biomedical Engineering.

Research assistant Laura Moldovan said it has historically been difficult to predict when a heart attack or stroke might happen: “They seem to happen randomly, sometimes without physical symptoms, but in fact there are small physical changes that occur in the blood — the key. until this device is capable of sensitively tracking these microscopic changes.”

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