There are real beginnings to cardiovascular and other systemic diseases, but symptoms are often silent in early stages, as well as in some advanced stages. A proactive approach to one’s health can uncover the current state of endothelial health so that, if necessary, the individual can seek appropriate treatment and/or course of action. What is endothelial health and why is it important? How do you know if you have endothelial dysfunction?
Endothelial Dysfunction—Indicator Of Your Risk Factor
Endothelial dysfunction is the medical term for arterial function, or the ability of the endothelial cells located in the inner lining of blood vessels to dilate sufficiently to regulate normal blood flow. The endothelium protects against the buildup of plaque that leads to hardening and narrowing of the arteries, known as atherosclerosis.
Endothelium dysfunction can be evaluated to determine if cardiovascular disease is in the developing stages. If discovered in its earliest stages, this condition is called subclinical atherosclerosis and can be reversed with proper treatment. If left untreated, this condition becomes atherosclerosis, which restricts blood flow and results in cardiovascular disease, manifesting as heart attack, stroke/TIA, and/or peripheral vascular disease.
In addition to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality, the endothelium has great impact on other systemic disease processes. Endothelial dysfunction can initiate an inflammatory process that leads to other systemic diseases, including metabolic syndrome, renal failure, sleep apnea, claudication, gangrene, preeclampsia toxemia, and erectile dysfunction.
Pat Signal And Endopat®
A procedure that noninvasively measures peripheral artery tone (PAT) was developed to capture what is referred to as the “PAT signal.” The leading medical device used to measure this signal is called the EndoPAT®. After successful demonstration that PAT technology is equivalent to an invasive catheterization performed to evaluate endothelial function in the coronary arteries, the EndoPAT® was cleared by the FDA.
The EndoPAT® quickly and painlessly measures the PAT by recording arterial pulsatile changes in the fingertip during a simple 15-minute test performed here in our facility. The test is as easy as taking a blood pressure reading and involves no radiation or nuclear exposure. The resulting number is called the EndoScore, with a low score of 1.67 or below indicating the need for further examination by a cardiologist.
A joint study conducted by the Mayo Clinic and Tufts University show that the EndoPAT® test is a highly accurate quantifier and highly predictive of a major cardiac event such as a heart attack or stroke for low-to-moderate risk individuals. Prior to development of EndoPAT®, there was no simple test for endothelial dysfunction. This test now provides the opportunity to address a potential serious condition, i.e., cardiovascular disease, early enough to hopefully avoid its consequences of heart attack, stroke, or peripheral artery disease.