NVOA Veterans List: San Diego Researchers Develop  Blood Test to Detect Heart Failure

From: "\"Doc\" Melson" <docmelson@docmelson.com>

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San Diego Researchers Develop
Blood Test to Detect Heart Failure
The expensive and time-consuming tests doctors
currently use to detect congestive heart failure may soon
be a thing of the past.Cardiologists from the VA San
Diego Healthcare System have developed a quick and
simple blood test to accurately detect heart failure in
people admitted to hospital emergency rooms experienc
ing shortness of breath.
“The new test is easy;anyone can do it,” said Alan
Maisel,M.D.,director of the Coronary Care Unit at the
San Diego VA Medical Center and professor of Medicine
at the University of California at San Diego.“This test
helps save lives and time.With two drops of blood,you
get results in 15 minutes.” Maisel reported these findings
in a study published in the February issue of the Journal
of the American College of Cardiology.
Researchers say the blood test detects elevated
levels of the hormone B-type natriuretic peptide,or BNP,
which is secreted by heart ventricles when pressure goes
up,signaling the potential for heart failure.The test is
analogous to a white blood cell count;it is more accurate
than Pap smears for cervical cancer,PSA tests for
prostate cancer and mammograms for breast cancer,
with very few false positives,according to Maisel.
Until now,no blood test has been available to diag-
nose congestive heart failure in urgent-care settings.
Patients brought into hospital emergency rooms experi-
encing shortness of breath are often required to take a
series of protracted tests,including a physical exam,X-
rays,stress tests and an expensive echocardiography
test,which is not readily available in all hospital emer-
gency rooms.
The BNP test,which was approved for use by the
U.S.Food and Drug Administration late last year,is
expected to be available soon for use with patients in
hospital emergency rooms.VA physicians annually
diagnose approximately 100,000 veterans with conges-
tive heart failure.

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Chapter 2 - Las Vegas
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