Photographic cholesterol test

August 17, 2012

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 image obtained is cropped and compared with images in a database for known cholesterol levels.

Writing in the International Journal of Medical Engineering and Informatics, N.R. Shanker of the Sree Sastha Institute of Engineering and Technology and colleagues describe how they have developed a non-invasive way to test cholesterol levels in patients at increased risk of heart disease. Their approach is based on the creation of a large database of recorded using standard blood tests and linked to a standardized photograph of the hand for each patient; cholesterol is concentrated in the creases of one's fingers. They developed an image-processing computer program that compares the image from a new patient with the thousands of entries in the database and matches it to a specific cholesterol reading.

Measuring the amount and type of cholesterol circulating in the blood is an important risk factor in cardiovascular disease. Excess cholesterol not used by the body in making hormones and building cells is laid down on the inner wall of arteries as a waxy plaque, which can reduce the normal flow of blood potentially causing and increasing the risk of cerebral stroke. Total cholesterol is a useful early indicator, although more detailed testing that distinguishes between the HDL high-density lipoprotein) and LDL (low-density lipoprotein) and triglycerides are needed for a more accurate health assessment of patients found to have high total cholesterol. It is LDL, so-called "bad" cholesterol that contributes to the formation of arterial plaques, atherosclerosis. The presence of different total levels of cholesterol can be revealed through image analysis of the skin.

A non-invasive and inexpensive method for would allow this risk factor be determined in much larger patient populations without the need for costly and inconvenient blood tests. The team will also soon publish details of the extension of this work to classifying cholesterol type using their approach.

Explore further: CDC: Cholesterol levels continue to drop

More information: Int. J. Medical Engineering and Informatics, 2012, 4, 223-230

Related Stories

CDC: Cholesterol levels continue to drop

April 24, 2012

(AP) -- U.S. health officials say only 13 percent of U.S. adults have high total cholesterol. That may seem incredible in a nation where two-thirds of adults are overweight.

Recommended for you

We've all got a blind spot, but it can be shrunk

August 31, 2015

You've probably never noticed, but the human eye includes an unavoidable blind spot. That's because the optic nerve that sends visual signals to the brain must pass through the retina, which creates a hole in that light-sensitive ...

Biologists identify mechanisms of embryonic wound repair

August 31, 2015

It's like something out of a science-fiction movie - time-lapse photography showing how wounds in embryos of fruit flies heal themselves. The images are not only real; they shed light on ways to improve wound recovery in ...

New 'Tissue Velcro' could help repair damaged hearts

August 28, 2015

Engineers at the University of Toronto just made assembling functional heart tissue as easy as fastening your shoes. The team has created a biocompatible scaffold that allows sheets of beating heart cells to snap together ...

Research identifies protein that regulates body clock

August 26, 2015

New research into circadian rhythms by researchers at the University of Toronto Mississauga shows that the GRK2 protein plays a major role in regulating the body's internal clock and points the way to remedies for jet lag ...

Fertilization discovery: Do sperm wield tiny harpoons?

August 26, 2015

Could the sperm harpoon the egg to facilitate fertilization? That's the intriguing possibility raised by the University of Virginia School of Medicine's discovery that a protein within the head of the sperm forms spiky filaments, ...

1 comment

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Vendicar Dickarian
1 / 5 (2) Aug 17, 2012
I originally envisioned having to take a leak while a digital camera was going off...

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.