Researchers at Mayo Clinic are suggesting the 'simple, non-invasive finger sensor test' to people who are classified as having a 'low or moderate risk' of cardiac problems. The test is aimed at forecasting their chances of future heart events, such as heart attack or stroke.
EndoPAT, the noninvasive finger test device, developed by Itamar Medical, measures the health of endothelial cells by measuring blood flow.
EndoPAT consists of digital recording equipment and two finger probes that look like large thimbles.
Endothelial cells line the blood vessels and regulate normal blood flow. It's already known that if the cells don't function properly - a condition called endothelial dysfunction - it can lead to atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) causing major cardiovascular health problems.
Amir Lerman, M.D., a cardiologist at Mayo Clinic and the senior author of the study said that earlier, there wasn't any simple test for endothelium function.
It was found that 49 percent of patients whose EndoPAT test indicated poor endothelial function had a cardiac event during the seven-year study.
The researchers used the device to test 270 patients between the ages of 42 and 66 and followed their progress from August 1999 to August 2007.
The patients already knew that they had low-to-medium risk of experiencing a major heart event, based on their Framingham Risk Score-the commonly used risk predictor developed from the Framingham Heart Study, a longitudinal study of heart disease.
Lerman claimed that some of their risk factors included high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and a family history of heart disease.
"The results of the study may help identify a discriminating tool beyond the Framingham Risk Score. 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," he said.
Lerman also added that the test may be used in an individualized medicine model of risk assessment of the patients.
The study will be presented at the American College of Cardiology Annual Scientific Session in Orlando.