Entries in Test (6)


Heart Attack or Not? New Test Might Tell

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- For Martin Black, it feels exactly like a heart attack.

"A pressure, an uncomfortable feeling," says the 89-year-old Black, who lives in Sarasota, Fla.

The pain starts on his left side just below his heart. Sometimes it goes away, but sometimes it lasts for hours. While the pain first only came at night, it has also pestered him in the early evening or early morning.

Out of concern for his health, Black did what anyone else would do. "I would call my doctor's service," he says. "Sometimes they would say, 'Call 911 and go to the hospital.'"

So he would.

As a result, Black has gone to the emergency room about 10 times for chest pain in the past few years. Such unexpected visits have led to his missing family parties and graduations, not to mention the large medical bills.

Black has few complaints, of course. He knows what doctors do, that such visits are crucial when it comes to ruling out a life-threatening situation. But, he said, the long wait for test results is more than just simply inconvenient for him.

"I'm not interested in staying [in the hospital] overnight," Martin said. "It's expensive; I've seen some of the Medicare bills that come out after I spend a night. ... The emergency room beds are not very comfortable, and it's not very pleasant to have to spend the night there getting blood tests."

New research suggests, however, that unnecessary hospital admissions under these circumstances might soon be a thing of the past.

A study released Monday in the journal Archives of Internal Medicine suggests that a new, more sensitive test for substances known as troponins, which are released by heart tissue during a heart attack, could help doctors determine whether a patient is having a heart attack within one hour.

Doctors now use troponins to monitor how much damage is occurring in the heart. Troponin levels are checked in patients who might be having heart attacks, on admission and at subsequent time intervals in the next eight to twelve hours. Potentially, the patient's first troponin test could be negative, but a subsequent test could show it as positive. So many patients must stay in the hospital for long periods of time, placing both a strain on patients as well as over-crowed emergency department and hospitals.

The new method described by Swiss researchers appears to be able to distinguish between a heart attack and chest pain from other causes after only 60 minutes for 77 percent of patients. The method involves taking blood when a patient first gets to the hospital and then repeating the test one hour later. The initial value of the high-sensitivity troponin test, as well as the change, along with information doctors gather from the electrocardiogram, history and physical exam, can point to whether a heart attack is actually in progress.

More than five million people come to the emergency department every year with chest pain at a cost of more than $6 billion to the health care system but only about 1.6 million, or 32 percent, are actually having a heart attack. So such a test, if it became a clinical reality, could represent huge savings in costs and time if implemented.

Cardiologists, however, cautioned that the test is not yet ready for widespread use, at least until all of the potential problems can be ironed out.

Dr. Christopher Cannon of the Cardiovascular Division of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston says that the tool sounds promising, but adds that the methods for using the information provided by a more sensitive test for troponin need to be tested and proven before they become a standard approach.

"It would help on the efficiency," Cannon says. "But this rule needs to be validated and refined."

There are also several heart conditions that can be dangerous but are not a heart attack that should be looked for in the emergency department.

Dr. Clyde Yancy, chief of cardiology at Northwestern University in Chicago, says that while a new tool to distinguish one case of chest pain from another would be helpful: "We should maintain an approach that incorporates useful tools in our diagnostic armamentarium but not allow this or any other diagnostic tool to trump the needed clinical judgment in the patient that is acutely ill."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


FDA Approves Over-the-Counter HIV Test

OraSure Technologies, Inc./Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- In what could be a breakthrough in preventing the transmission of HIV, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Tuesday approved a new over-the-counter test kit called OraQuick that the government says could help identify hundreds of thousands of previously undiagnosed cases of the infection.

“This is the first home-diagnostic HIV test that allows the consumer to obtain a sample by swabbing the upper and lower gum, putting it into a developing vial and waiting for test results to determine – in the privacy of their home – their HIV status,” FDA spokesperson Rita Chappelle said Tuesday.

The test offers a result in approximately 20 to 30 minutes.

There are an estimated 1.2 million people living with HIV in the U.S., and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says 1 in 5 cases are undiagnosed.

“This test has the potential to identify large numbers of previously undiagnosed HIV infections, especially if used by people who typically would not seek out standard screening methods,” Chappelle said.

The test has been more than 99 percent accurate in diagnosing negative results -- but one in every 12 tests gave a false positive. Chappelle says consumers should still exercise caution when using OraQuick: infections from within the past three months may not be detected.

“Regardless of the results, they should still follow up in a medical setting to get a confirmatory test.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Porn Actor Retests HIV-Negative after Industry Shutdown

ABC News(LOS ANGELES) -- An adult film performer whose positive HIV test prompted the shutdown of Los Angeles' billion-dollar porn industry last week has been retested and does not have the virus, an industry trade group announced.

“This is good news for the primary patient, the industry will continue to be abundantly cautious as we try to nail down the reasons for what now appears to have been a false positive result on a previous test,” Free Speech Coalition executive director Diane Duke said in a statement.

"After discussion with our medical expert, he has advised that it would be appropriate for production to resume," she added.

HIV tests detect antibodies to the virus in a person's blood.  But because they are developed to be especially sensitive, they can sometimes generate a false positive result, according to the World Health Organization.  Therefore, positive results must be confirmed by another test method.

The HIV scare came less than one month after the Free Speech Coalition launched a new online sexual health database aimed at preventing the spread of sexually transmitted diseases among porn actors through mandatory testing.  To be listed in the database -- a requisite for getting work -- porn actors must get tested every 30 days and present a clean bill of health.  But critics say routine testing does not prevent STDs from creeping in.

"Testing is not a substitute for condom use, and it never will be," said Michael Weinstein, president of the AIDS Healthcare Foundation in Los Angeles.  "No test can detect HIV from the moment of infection.  There will always be a window period," which might not reflect recent infection.

The AIDS Healthcare Foundation is pushing for mandatory condom use in the making of adult films -- a move that's been met with strong resistance from the industry itself.

"If the market would accept condom-positive movies, that's what we would all be making.  The fact is consumers don't want that," Christian Mann, general manger of Evil Angel Productions and unpaid Free Speech Coalition board member, told ABC News when the database launched.

"The market will always trump regulation," said Mann.  "If you make it so California-based productions cannot compete in the market, you'll just drive production out of the state."

But Weinstein insists that worker safety should not be optional.

"You can't dangle from a 30-story building from a rope; you have to wear a harness," he said.  "The idea that hurting these performers is a matter of freedom of expression is simply wrong."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


New Test Cleared for Diagnosing Q Fever in Soldiers

Jupiterimages/Comstock(WASHINGTON) -- The first nucleic acid amplification test for diagnosing early stages of Q fever infections in military personnel serving abroad has been cleared by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Q fever (Coxiella burnetii) is an infectious disease that affects U.S. soldiers serving in Iraq and other parts of the world. FDA officials say the new test is capable of indentifying and detecting the bacteria that causes the fever within four hours.

“It’s important that the FDA protect our troops from biothreats using innovative diagnostics,” said Jeffrey Shuren, M.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health. “Q fever bacteria is considered a biothreat agent in part due to the fact that fewer than 10 organisms need to be inhaled to cause infection and its ability to withstand open environments.”

The test’s development was funded by the U.S. Department of Defense and developed by Idaho Technology Inc.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


When’s the Best Time to Do a Breast Self-Exam?

Stephanie Rushton/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- It's long been suggested that women perform breast self exams just after menstruation, when the breast tissue is less swollen and hence lumps are more likely to be felt. The exact opposite is true however, according to Greg Anderson, founder and CEO of Cancer Recovery Foundation International.

"Particularly right after the period, you're going to find more false positives than at any other time. Really, it's the second half of the monthly cycle, before the period, known as the luteal phase, that you want to do a self-exam," he says. Overdiagnosis and overtreatment of breast cancer is a problem just getting recognized by the medical community, Anderson says.

In women 50 years old and younger, dense breasts lead to many false positives, he says. This is in part why the American Cancer Society recommends clinical breast exams only once every three years for women under 40. For women over 50, the chance of false positives is substantially lower, says Anderson.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio


Test to Help Speed-Up Distinguishing Between MRSA and MSSA

Siri Stafford/Photodisc/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- Health experts will now be able to save time when trying to determine whether Staphylococcus aureus infections in patients are methicillin resistant (MRSA) or methicillin susceptible (MSSA), as the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced on Friday that it has cleared a test that will allow a speed-up in the process.

There are various types of Staphylococci bacteria, some of which are easily treated with antibiotics and some that are resistant to this treatment, such as MRSA.

The FDA has cleared the KeyPath MRSA/MSSA Blood Culture Test for use by doctors, with officials saying that the test makes it possible to determine whether bacteria in a patient’s positive blood culture sample are MRSA or MSSA within about five hours.

“This not only saves time in diagnosing potentially life-threatening infections but also allows health care professionals to optimize treatment and start appropriate contact precautions to prevent the spread of the organism,” said Alberto Gutierrez, Ph.D., director of the Office of In Vitro Diagnostics Device Evaluation and Safety in the FDA’s Center for Devices and Radiological Health.

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

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