Researchers in the US have found an important diagnostic tool in which peripheral arteries, easily accessible by ultrasound, may be useful for assessing a patient's risk for damage or disease in the heart's major blood vessels. The study appeared in the journal of The Anatomical Record.
Atherosclerosis, commonly known as hardening of the arteries, has long been seen as a strong indicator of coronary artery disease. A research team at New York Institute of Technology's college of osteopathic medicine performed a study using histopathology to more accurately grade atherosclerosis development.
The findings suggest the possibility of introducing a new way to measure systemic atherosclerosis: the radial artery. "Peripheral arteries may be reliable indicators of coronary vascular disease," is authored by Brian L. Beatty, Ph.D., and Bennett Futterman, M.D., both associate professors of Anatomy at NYITCOM, and Christopher Hoehmann, a third-year medical student there. They studied the arteries of 48 cadavers - corpse - to determine risk factors for atherosclerosis, sampling 13 arterial segments from each of the donated cadavers, including segments of carotid, central and peripheral arteries.
To investigate the distribution of atherosclerosis in various arteries throughout the body, they sampled segments from the carotid arteries and from peripheral vessels and compared them to clinically relevant central arteries of the torso. The results indicated that the radial artery, a peripheral vessel, exhibited a positive correlation between both the pathologic left coronary and bifurcation of the carotid arteries.
As such, they propose investigating the radial artery as a clinically accessible location to monitor with ultrasound when assessing a patient's risk for ischemic cardiovascular disease.