Sudden tightness in the chest, with a congestive pain travelling down the left jaw, shoulder and arm could be a sign of a heart attack. A heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart is blocked. The blood supply usually gets blocked due to the buildup of fat and cholesterol in the arteries of the heart. A heart attack should be treated immediately or else it can turn into a life-threatening situation. In a recent meeting of the European Society of Cardiology on 26th August 2020, scientists found that a saliva test could be helpful in diagnosing a heart attack in minutes.
Current tests for diagnosing a heart attack
Currently, for diagnosing a heart attack, the doctor would prescribe you an electrocardiogram and blood tests.
An electrocardiogram is a test which is done to examine the electrical signals of the heart. In this test, the doctor applies electrodes (sticky patches) on the chest of the patient.
Tests are done after the heart attack to look for certain blood markers. These include the cardiac troponin tests, Creatine kinase-MB tests and serum myoglobin tests. Cardiac troponin is a protein which is released into the blood when the muscle of the heart gets injured.
Saliva test for diagnosing a heart attack
The blood tests done after a heart attack usually take around an hour to give results. However, the latest saliva tests can diagnose a heart attack within ten minutes. To find out the effectiveness of saliva in diagnosing a heart attack, the scientists collected saliva samples of
32 patients who had a heart muscle injury and showed positive cardiac troponin blood test. The study also included 13 healthy volunteers, who were also asked to give their saliva samples by spitting into a collection tube. The scientists then divided these samples into two equal parts and one half of them were processed and the rest were kept in the natural state.
Then the scientists compared the results of the saliva samples with the blood samples. The results showed that the blood findings correlated with the results of processed saliva only. Around 84% of the processed saliva samples showed positive results for troponin while only 6% of the unprocessed saliva had troponin levels.
Hope for the future
The study concluded that processed saliva can act as an indicator for diagnosing a heart attack in people.
The scientists believe that further research needs to be done to find out for how long cardiac troponin stays in the saliva after a heart attack. The scientists plan on performing a study on a larger scale and wish to create a prototype for a cardiac troponin test using saliva.