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Science / Medicine Developments in Brief

Portable Machines Found Useful in Blood Testing for Cholesterol Levels

May 24, 1987|Times staff and wire service reports

Widespread public screening to determine cholesterol levels appears to be practical and useful, according to a study on the use of portable blood-testing machines.

The study, involving 11 medical centers nationwide, found that on-the-spot analysis of pin-prick blood samples was almost as effective in determining cholesterol levels as detailed laboratory tests that take a week to run.

The study's chairman, Dr. Antonio M. Gotto Jr. of Baylor College, said the yearlong trial showed that large-scale screening is a way of identifying people with high cholesterol levels, a major risk factor for heart disease.

Gotto cautioned that any cholesterol screening should be coupled with referral programs to encourage those found with high blood fat levels to see their doctors or to go to clinics specializing in treating the condition.

Cholesterol is a waxy substance in the blood that can contribute to heart and blood vessel disease.

In the latest study, more than 13,000 people were tested at shopping malls, schools, clinics, doctors' offices and work sites using a portable analyzing machine that requires only one drop of blood.

The study found that results of the simpler test, in terms of accuracy, were within 1% to 4% of those from more extensive and expensive tests, Gotto said.

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