A new system for diagnosing people with a high risk of heart disease has been developed by a team of Israeli engineers.
Dr Giora Amitzur of Tel Aviv University’s Sackler Faculty of Medicine, Prof Shmuel Einav of the Fleischman Faculty of Engineering and Eran Peleg of the Hadassah Medical Center in Jerusalem co-developed the new system which works by testing the endothelial health of patients.
Endothelial cells, which line the inner layer of the artery, release substances that enable the artery to contract and expand while transporting oxygen to the body. Among these is nitric oxide, an important blood vessel relaxant that protects against atherosclerosis – the disease that commonly precedes heart attacks and strokes.
Malfunctioning of the endothelium, due to risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and diabetes, reduces or prevents the release of nitric oxide in the arteries, which in turn can lead to atherosclerosis.
The condition can go unnoticed for several years until a full blown heart attack occurs.
The system itself comprises a number of pressure sensors which are attached to the patient’s arms and wrists. Pressure is then applied to the limbs to reduce the blood flow to the arteries. A monitor then gauges the expansion of the patient’s arteries in response to that pressure, providing an indication of endothelial health. The test is as simple as taking blood pressure and just as fast.
‘All the products on the market cannot diagnose cardiovascular disease at such an early stage,’ said Dr Amitzur. “Other methods make the diagnosis at much later stages of arterial blockage.’
The monitor, Endotect, which is being developed by Cardiatec, has successfully completed the first round of clinical trials at the TAU-affiliated Chaim Sheba Medical Center. It is now undergoing a second round of trials.