Simple finger device may help predict future heart attack

Mar 26, 2009

Results of a Mayo Clinic study show that a simple, noninvasive finger sensor test is "highly predictive" of a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke, for people who are considered at low or moderate risk, according to researchers.

The study will be presented Tuesday, March 31, 2009 at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in Orlando.

The noninvasive finger test device, called the EndoPAT by Itamar Medical, measures the health of endothelial cells by measuring . Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and regulate normal blood flow. Research has shown that if the cells don't function properly - a condition called endothelial dysfunction - it can set the stage for atherosclerosis (hardening of the ) and lead to major cardiovascular health problems. Previously, there was no simple test for endothelium function, says Amir Lerman, M.D., a cardiologist at and the senior author of the study.

Forty-nine percent of patients whose EndoPAT test indicated poor endothelial function had a cardiac event during the seven-year study. Researchers at Mayo Clinic and Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston used the device to test 270 patients between the ages of 42 and 66 and followed their progress from August 1999 to August 2007. These patients already knew that they had low-to-medium risk of experiencing a major heart event, based on their Framingham Risk Score. The score is the commonly used risk predictor and was developed from the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal study of .

Some of their risk factors included high , high cholesterol, obesity and a family history of heart disease, Dr. Lerman says. "The results of the study may help identify a discriminating tool beyond the Framingham Risk Score," he says. "And the results of these individual tests may help physicians change a patient's medications or recommend other therapies, so they don't have a heart attack or stroke later on."

The test may be used in an individualized medicine model of risk assessment of the patients, Dr. Lerman says.

EndoPAT, which received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2003, consists of digital recording equipment and two finger probes that look like large thimbles. For the test, which takes 15 minutes, probes are placed on each index finger and hooked up to a small machine to measure blood flow. A standard blood pressure cuff is placed on one arm; the arm without the cuff is the control. A reading of the fingers' blood flow rate begins, and then the blood pressure cuff on one arm is inflated for a few minutes and then deflated, allowing for three timed readings.

The role of the inflated blood pressure cuff is to occlude and then release blood flow to assess reactive hyperemia (RH), the normal blood flow response that occurs when occlusion is released. In the study, 49 percent of the patients who went on to have a cardiac event had a low RH score.

A low RH signal - indicating a lower blood flow response - is consistent with endothelial dysfunction and potentially impaired vascular health that may lead to or serve as a marker for future events, Dr. Lerman says.

Source: Mayo Clinic (news : web)

Explore further: US scientists make embryonic stem cells from adult skin

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Simple test helps predict heart attack risk

Mar 10, 2009

The use of common and readily available screening tests—like the ankle brachial index (ABI)—along with traditional risk scoring systems—such as the Framingham Risk Score—has the potential to prevent devastating heart ...

Biomarkers improve ischemic stroke prediction

Dec 18, 2008

Testing patient's blood for two proteins or biomarkers that occur when inflammation is present could help doctors identify which patients are more likely to have a stroke, said researchers at Baylor College of Medicine in ...

Recommended for you

Leeches help save woman's ear after pit bull mauling

Apr 18, 2014

(HealthDay)—A pit bull attack in July 2013 left a 19-year-old woman with her left ear ripped from her head, leaving an open wound. After preserving the ear, the surgical team started with a reconnection ...

New pain relief targets discovered

Apr 17, 2014

Scientists have identified new pain relief targets that could be used to provide relief from chemotherapy-induced pain. BBSRC-funded researchers at King's College London made the discovery when researching ...

User comments : 0

More news stories

Filipino tests negative for Middle East virus

A Filipino nurse who tested positive for the Middle East virus has been found free of infection in a subsequent examination after he returned home, Philippine health officials said Saturday.

Study says we're over the hill at 24

(Medical Xpress)—It's a hard pill to swallow, but if you're over 24 years of age you've already reached your peak in terms of your cognitive motor performance, according to a new Simon Fraser University study.

NASA's space station Robonaut finally getting legs

Robonaut, the first out-of-this-world humanoid, is finally getting its space legs. For three years, Robonaut has had to manage from the waist up. This new pair of legs means the experimental robot—now stuck ...

Ex-Apple chief plans mobile phone for India

Former Apple chief executive John Sculley, whose marketing skills helped bring the personal computer to desktops worldwide, says he plans to launch a mobile phone in India to exploit its still largely untapped ...

Egypt archaeologists find ancient writer's tomb

Egypt's minister of antiquities says a team of Spanish archaeologists has discovered two tombs in the southern part of the country, one of them belonging to a writer and containing a trove of artifacts including reed pens ...

Airbnb rental site raises $450 mn

Online lodging listings website Airbnb inked a $450 million funding deal with investors led by TPG, a source close to the matter said Friday.