As early as the 1600's, Thomas Sydenham, known as the English Hippocrates, said "a man is as old as his arteries." Today we know this holds true for women as well. Traditionally, cardiovascular age has been measured by the change in blood pressure. A more informative and precise technique has been developed to measure this change in stiffness of arteries as they age. SphygmoCor is an FDA-approved device that is becoming the gold standard in trials that assess the effectiveness of blood pressure medications and can now be found in a few doctors' offices around the globe. We perform this measurement on all patients to measure their baseline vascular age and to see how our programs are affecting it.
Heart disease affects more people than any other disease or illness, and can develop without any symptoms. Some people may not be aware of heart disease until they have a heart attack, stroke or other health problem.
A growing number of cardiovascular risk factors, including diabetes, high cholesterol, smoking, high blood pressure and age, have been linked to heart attack, stroke and heart failure. These factors often lead to stiffer arteries, which in turn increases resistance and therefore increases the work that the heart must do.
Blood pressure Pulse Wave Analysis is new technology that assists your doctor in assessing your arterial and cardiovascular health. Blood pressure measured in your arm is not the same as the blood pressure at your heart. It is your blood pressure at your heart that affects the performance of your heart, and pulse wave analysis determines your blood pressure at your heart and gives your doctor valuable information about the interaction between your heart and blood vessels. This new technique therefore complements the conventional blood pressure cuff and provides additional information on cardiac function.
You should take this test if you have any of the following risk factors:
Augmentation Index (AIx)
Augmentation Index is a measure of the stiffness of your arteries. High cholesterol, smoking, diabetes, and aging can all cause the vessels that take blood from the heart (the arteries) to become stiffer. As the arteries become stiffer the heart must work harder due to the extra load on the heart.
Ejection Duration (ED)
Each time our heart beats, it has a time when it is contracting and pumping blood out of the heart, and a time when it is resting and filling with blood. The ED is a measurement of how much time the heart spends pumping. When the heart spends a shorter time than normal pumping there may be problems with the ability to pump blood, while longer than normal pumping time may indicate problems with the ability for the heart to relax and fill with blood.
Subendocardial Viability Ratio (SEVR)
When the heart is resting, the heart muscle is supplied with oxygen for energy. When the heart is contracting and pumping this energy is being used. The SEVR is a measure of the ability of the arterial system to meet the heart’s energy requirements. As this ratio decreases, the heart has less energy reserves available and may have a lower tolerance for physical activity.
The test is simple and painless, taking only a few minutes to perform. while you are seated in a comfortable position, the nurse or doctor will place a pencil-like sensor gently against your wrist and record a blood pressure signal from your pulse. From this recording, the Pulse Wave Analysis system will calculate the pressure waveform at the heart and provide your physician with cardiovascular measurements such as Alx, ED and SEVR.
Heart disease can be treated using a combination of diet, exercise and drug therapies. Your doctor will use this information to assist with making decisions on whether you need treatment, and if so what treatment options are best for you. It is important for your physician to see how your cardiovascular assessment changes in response to treatment.
For more information on wave reflection, visit Atcor Medical's excellent tutorial presentation and flash animation.