Monday April 22, 2019

Simple Blood Test can Diagnose Fibromyalgia for the First Time

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medication, exercise and stress reduction measures can help control the symptoms

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Fibromyalgia
Constant pain is a symptom of fibromyalgia. Barb Hartong suffered from this disorder for a long time before she finally got the right diagnosis. VOA

Millions of people live with the constant pain of fibromyalgia. It’s a disorder that’s often misdiagnosed. And while lab tests can help identify a lot of diseases, until recently there was no test for fibromyalgia. Now, a simple blood test could finally give these patients scientific proof of their condition.

Constant pain is a symptom of fibromyalgia. Barb Hartong suffered from this disorder for a long time before she finally got the right diagnosis. “It was almost a relief because I finally knew what was wrong with me,” Hartong said.

Fibromyalgia is a disorder with symptoms of widespread muscle and joint pain, accompanied by fatigue and problems with sleep, memory and mood. Researchers believe that with fibromyalgia, the brain amplifies the pain signals it gets. About 75 percent of those who suffer from fibromyalgia are undiagnosed. Some people live with pain for years. Many patients receive treatment that’s ineffective or even harmful.

Researchers at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center formed a multi-disciplinary team to see if they could develop a laboratory test to diagnose this disorder and make it easier for patients to get some relief. Dr. Kevin Hackshaw led the study.

“Many of the patients with chronic opiate use turn out to have underlying fibromyalgia. So in fact, if that was recognized then we could realize that we can stem the tide of treating them inappropriately with opiates,” Hackshaw said.

The result was a simple blood test that could diagnose fibromyalgia with nearly 100 percent accuracy. Hackshaw worked with researchers at the Ohio State food science and technology department. They found that same technology used to quickly analyze different components in food, like protein and fat, can also analyze chemicals in the blood. Dr. Luis Rodriguez-Saona was the study’s co-author.

“We use infrared in many companies to determine protein, fat, moisture, starch levels, fiber in seconds,” Rodriguez-Saona said. Rodriguez-Saona says each person’s blood is unique, like a fingerprint, and this test can show the intricate details of that fingerprint. It can distinguish fibromyalgia from other chronic pain conditions with nearly 100 percent accuracy. The test uses a color-coded computer program. “The brown colored squares, these belong to the fibromyalgia, the red ones are rheumatoid arthritis and the green ones are lupus,” Rodriguez-Saona said.

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Hackshaw says when people learn the results they feel relieved just like Barb Hartong did. “A test like this provides confirmation and validation of the symptoms they’ve been suffering for years,” Hackshaw said.

There is no cure for fibromyalgia, but medication, exercise and stress reduction measures can help control the symptoms. Hartong takes medication and sticks to a daily routine. “It’s not just giving me a pill, it’s how do I live? For me, it’s exercise,” Hartong said.

The researchers now want to use the test on a larger group of patients to see if they get the same results. If the test is approved, doctors will be able to diagnose fibromyalgia instantly and save patients years of suffering. (VOA)

Next Story

Blood Test Can Help Diagnose Pre-eclampsia, Says Study

There was no change in the likelihood of complications for the baby, the age at which babies were delivered prematurely or whether they were admitted to a neonatal unit

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Image source- sites.bu.edu

A simple blood test can help diagnose a common but potentially fatal pregnancy complication — pre-eclampsia, finds a study published in The Lancet journal.

During the study, by measuring the concentration of placental growth factor (PlGF) in a woman’s blood, doctors were able to diagnose pre-eclampsia two days sooner on average.

“We knew monitoring PlGF was an accurate way to help detect the condition but were unsure whether making this tool available to clinicians would lead to better care for women. Now we know that it does,” said lead author Lucy Chappell from King’s College London.

Pre-eclampsia, a condition in pregnancy characterised by high blood pressure, sometimes with fluid retention and proteinuria, can cause damage to vital organs, fits and can be fatal for the woman and baby, if left untreated. Globally, 100 women die due to pre-eclampsia every day.

A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. A test that doesn't require a needle or blood has won the Africa Prize for Engineering Innovation
A health service worker takes a blood sample for a malaria test in Dajabon, Dominican Republic, on the border with Haiti, Oct. 6, 2009. VOA

“For the last hundred years, we have diagnosed pre-eclampsia by measuring blood pressure and checking for protein in a woman’s urine. These are relatively imprecise and often quite subjective,” Chappell noted.

For the study, the research team studied 1,035 women with suspected pre-eclampsia from 11 maternity units across the UK. They were randomly assigned to two groups — one had their PlGF test results made available to their clinical team, the other did not.

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The PlGF testing was shown to reduce the average time to diagnose pre-eclampsia from four to two days and serious complications before birth (such as eclampsia, stroke, and maternal death) to four per cent from five per cent.

There was no change in the likelihood of complications for the baby, the age at which babies were delivered prematurely or whether they were admitted to a neonatal unit, the researchers said. (IANS)