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Study results of a Mayo Clinic showed that a simple, noninvasive finger sensor test was "highly predictive" of major cardiac events, such as a heart attack or stroke, for people who are considered at low or moderate risk.

EndoPAT, manufactured by Itamar Medical, is a noninvasive finger test device, which by measuring blood flow measures the health of endothelial cells that serve for regulating normal blood flow.

Research has shown that if these cells don't function properly, they can set the stage for atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and lead to major cardiovascular health problems. Before this device was invented, there was no simple test for measuring endothelium functioning.

Forty-nine percent of patients whose EndoPAT test indicated poor endothelial function had a cardiac event during the seven-year study. Researchers from Mayo Clinic and Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston tested 270 patients between the ages of 42 and 66 and followed their progress for 8 years. 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 heart disease.

Their risk factors included high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity and a family history of heart disease. EndoPAT device may prove to be 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 to prevent a heart attack or stroke.

EndoPAT received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval in 2003. The device consists of digital recording equipment and two finger probes that look like large thimbles. The test takes 15 minutes during which the 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. Forty-nine percent of the study participants 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.

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I wonder when the Endo PAT 2000 will be made available to the general public. I want to buy one.
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