Tonometer - Painless Quick Test for Heart Disease
February 21st, 2006
A group of
researchers from the Mayo Clinic used an arterial tonometer to help
diagnose patients for hardened arteries and coronary artery calcium who
have no outward symptoms of heart disease. The results were first
reported in the current issue of Hypertension, published by the American
M.D., of Mayo Clinic, the lead author of the study said, "About 40
percent of the American public is considered to be at moderate risk for
heart disease. Nearly half the heart attacks come without warning,
which means we need to do a better job of screening people. This test
has that potential."
The equipment is
used to measure the pulse wave velocity (aPWV). By measuring how fast a
pulse wave travels down the aorta in a personís heart, it can help
pinpoint if there is a problem with the arteries. The test is painless
and could become a standard screening for heart disease in the future.
It only takes about 10 -15 minutes using a tonometer it measures an aPWV
between the neck carotid arteries to the upper thigh femoral artery.
The data is collected and analyzed in a computer. Patients who have
slower aPWV readings are healthier because their arteries are more
elastic. The faster the aPWV the harder the arteries and the more at
risk a patient is for developing heart disease.
The research study
took place between 2002 and 2004. There were 401 people from ages 32
through 84 that did not have any history of heart attack or stroke. Of
the 401 people, 213 were men and 188 were women and the group had a
median age of 60 years. The researchers were able to measure if the
participants had hardened arteries and the presence and amount of
calcium in the arteries. They also found that the people who had a
history of smoking also had a higher incidence and amount of calcium in
the arteries compared to the non-smokers.
The study also
found that those that had stiffer arteries also had more calcium in the
coronary arteries. Calcium in the arteries promotes plaque buildup.
Kullo says that the relationship of aPWV and artery calcium has been
unknown in previous studies. The researchers believe this test could be
helpful for those who have heart disease in the family, high blood
pressure, or kidney disease.
will hopefully become main stream as a method to test for hardened
arteries. It can warn a person of potential health problems. The bad
news is it does not fix the problem. You can get medications to help
slow down the hardening of arteries which should slow down the
progression of heart disease.
It is a reminder
that we should always try to do healthy choices everyday. Eating right,
exercise, donít over consume alcoholic beverages, and donít smoke all
are still good ideas. The American Heart Association has an excellent
website to help anyone get started on a heart healthy lifestyle.
Books on Heart Disease
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