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Blood thickness test for heart patients that can be done at home

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While visiting a school in Foster City, a small community near San Francisco, we met a teacher who just returned from a local hospital laboratory: She goes to have her blood thickness check, about every two weeks, because she had a valve replacement in her heart.

After some research and discussions with several doctors, we found that almost everyone who had a heart procedure--valve replacement, heart by-pass, etc--is on, or was on, a blood thinner: a chemical that controls the thickness of the blood that flows throughout our arteries and our heart.

As an example, after a valve replacement, a heart by-pass, and other procedures that require blood thinners, the doctor wants to make sure that the thickness of the blood does not interfere with the function of the heart, he therefore prescribes a blood thinner that won't make the blood clog the workings of the heart.

To make sure the blood is at a prescribed thickness, the patient has to have his or her blood drawn and tested. This is done at a hospital laboratory or by a registered nurse at home. If the registered nurse draws the blood at home, she has to take the blood to the hospital laboratory to be tested. But most of the time, the patient has to go to the hospital to have their blood tested, and a trip to the hospital laboratory for the elderly and handicap could be a hardship. A way to test the blood at home was needed. Finally, a small testing machine was invented, but only a few of the hospitals could afford them for there visiting registered nurses.

After the blood was taken by the registered nurse and tested at home on the new machine, a number level would apear, which was called into the laboratory by the registered nurse--if the number level is too high, the blood won't clot and if the patient gets a cut, they could possibly bleed to death; if the number is too low, it's equally as dangerous because the blood will clot too much and there is a possibility of a stroke, a heart attack, or something equally as fatal.

When the blood is taken by the registered nurse and called into the laboratory, a pharmacist will call the patient at home and tell them what dosage of blood thinner to take, how many days to take the thinner at that dosage, and when they are to be tested again.

Just recently at one of the peninsula's hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area, several people were invited to learn how to use the machine to test the thickness of the blood. After the lesson on how to use the machine, a testing machine was loaned to the person in order for them to do the testing at home,

So, in the future, the elderly will be able to do the testing at home, and they would not have to make a trip to the hospital; if a patient is on a vacation, or a business trip, they would not have to find a hospital to have their blood tested; and a bed ridden patient would not have to find a way to the hospitral to have his or her blood tested.

The teacher went on to say that it would be nice if I could do the testing at home and send the results to my doctor, then I wouldn't have to make the trip, every two weeks, to the hospital.