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A Photographic Cholesterol Test
According to an announcement released on August 17, researchers in India have developed a total cholesterol test that uses a digital camera to take a snapshot of the back of the patient’s hand rather than a blood sample. The snapshot is then compared with images in a database for known cholesterol levels.
The study was reported in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics.
The new approach is based on the creation of a large database of cholesterol levels that have been recorded using standard blood tests and linked to a standardized photograph of the hand for each patient. Cholesterol is concentrated in the creases of a person’s fingers.
The researchers developed an image-processing computer program that compares the image from a new patient with the thousands of entries in the database and matches the image to a specific cholesterol reading.
The amount and type of cholesterol circulating in the blood are important risk factors in cardiovascular disease. Excess cholesterol not used by the body in making hormones and in building cells is deposited on arterial walls as a waxy plaque, which can reduce the normal flow of blood, potentially causing heart problems and increasing the risk of cerebral stroke.
Total cholesterol is a useful early indicator of cardiovascular disease, although more detailed testing is needed to distinguish between high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and triglycerides in patients who are found to have high total cholesterol.
According to the researchers, a noninvasive and inexpensive method for cholesterol screening would allow total levels of cholesterol to be determined in much larger patient populations without the need for costly and inconvenient blood tests.
The team plans to publish details on an extension of their work, in which photographs were used to classify cholesterol type.
For more information, visit the Inderscience Publications Web site.