Just as diabetics can monitor their own blood sugar levels soon people at risk of developing a deep vein thrombosis (DVT) will be able to use a small pocket-size device to assess their risk of having a blood clot.
DVT is a very serious condition where a person develops a blood clot in the deep veins of their legs. If left undiagnosed and untreated, the blood clot could travel to the lungs causing a pulmonary embolism (PE), with possible heart failure and death.
Airline passengers have always been at the highest risk of developing DVT due to the long hours of immobility, yet even people on train and car journeys, or those sitting for long periods of time at a desk, are at risk of developing DVT.
Airline passengers at high risk have always been encouraged to move around the plane and not sit still for too long. Now, they will be able to avert a DVT by testing their own blood.
Many factors can affect the likelihood of developing a DVT such as age, history of thrombosis, recent surgery, pregnancy, some contraceptives, smoking, obesity and even dehydration.
Although the number of people in the U.S with DVT is unknown it is estimated that between 300,000-600,000 have the condition.
Scientists from the German research facility, Fraunhofer Institute IZM, Munich, in conjunction with researchers from eight European countries are currently working on developing the DVT test. They have devised a single-use cartridge plate and computerized plastic strip, a “lab-on-chip,” that needs only a single drop of blood to test. Inside a sensor chamber the blood is analyzed for blood clotting markers. If the number is higher then a blood clot is forming and appropriate measures can be taken.
Initially the scientists were developing this test to be used by physicians using a hand-held scanner but now this device should be accessible to all.
This will also mean that the test will be available in doctor's offices and hospitals meaning patients will no longer have to wait long periods of times for their results.