Almost a quarter of all Europeans die from causes related to hardened arteries (arteriosclerosis) around the heart and subsequent coronary thrombosis. The figure is high because many are simply not aware of the development of the disease, until it is too late. What is needed is a quick and inexpensive way of detecting the problem at an early stage, and at Aalborg University in northern Jutland, two PhD students – Samuel Schmidt and Claus Graff – have found a novel way to do just that.
Their technique exploits the fact that when arteries start to harden and narrow in the early stages of the disease, it causes turbulence in the blood flow which produces a tiny yet distinctive sound. With the aid of signal processing software developed by Schmidt and Graff, the sound can easily be heard through a digital stethoscope. The technique is easy to apply, non-invasive and considerably cheaper than existing diagnostic methods.
The Danish medico industry has been quick to see the potential health economic benefits of the new method, and has officially recognized its significance by awarding Schmidt and Graff the 2007 Medico Prize.
"The system can improve the life quality of patients by helping prevent a serious disease and saving lives," said Morten Falck Larsen, chairman of the Danish medico industry association.
Samuel Schmidt comments that the prestigious prize will help in attracting investors, to enable continuation of the development work and commercialisation of the method.
The news was reported by Jydske Vestkysten.