Simple test can catch smokers who fib

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A simple device for detecting carbon monoxide in the blood may help doctors get an honest answer out of patients who smoke.

The device, called a pulse CO-oximeter, is typically used to test for carbon monoxide levels in firefighters, but it can also detect carbon monoxide levels in people who smoke, offering a powerful tool for educating patients about the effects of smoking.

“We were trying to just solve a little problem,” says Dr Sridhar Reddy, a lung specialist in St. Clair, Michigan, USA who presented the study at a scientific meeting of the American College of Chest Physicians in Chicago.

Dr Reddy was looking for a quick, convenient method to detect whether a person smokes. Current tests involve breath, blood or saliva samples, but the pulse CO-oximeter simply involves placing a clip-like device on a finger tip.



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