Heart health at the tip of your finger

Israeli company Itamar Medical has developed a device that can measure the health of your heart from a fingertip test. Now the device has received a seal of approval from the Mayo Clinic. Whoopi Goldberg tried the EndoPAT heart test …

Israeli company Itamar Medical has developed a device that can measure the health of your heart from a fingertip test. Now the device has received a seal of approval from the Mayo Clinic.

Whoopi Goldberg tried the EndoPAT heart test on her finger during a recent episode of The View and came out smiling. After 15 minutes, the Israeli developed device was able to give her heart a passing grade. At least for the next seven years.

Developed by Itamar Medical, an Israeli company traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the EndoPAT has been popular not only with celebrities, but also gets a seal of approval from America’s doctors, and prestigious medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic.

Earning FDA status in 2003, the EndoPAT can measure the health of your heart using two small probes that hook up to each index finger. While there are other tests on the market like ultrasound tests to help clinicians assess if a patient has the early onset of heart disease, the EndoPAT looks further into the future — up to seven years, sensing whether or not your arteries are losing elasticity.

Like a blood pressure test on your finger

“The test I’m talking about – a 15 minute test – is a probe on the finger and basically it works the way you take blood pressure,” says Dr. Dov Rubin, the company’s CEO. “We do the same thing and measure the stress of the arteries in the fingertips.”

Used over 150,000 times in the US, the recent vote of confidence from the Mayo Clinic, which tested the EndoPAT on an independent study of healthy volunteers – part of the Framingham Heart Study — tells doctors that it’s a good addition to their toolkit for assessing heart disease.

“That’s the beauty of this. That’s why it is revolutionary,” Rubin tells ISRAEL21c. “The EndoPAT is the easiest detector of this disease. All other devices work within about one, two or three years. There is a test in the US that looks for carotid plaque. The point is once there is a buildup of plaque, it is too late in the cycle. A patient is not going to turn around that much. Ours can already see arteries that are less distensible.”

This means that people who may get a clean bill of health from doctors, can look deeper into their future, to know if they are at risk for heart attack seven years down the road. If you discover you are at risk, a regimen for improving health can be developed with a doctor. Changing one’s diet and exercise, or taking statins, may be a course of action.

Applications in understanding erectile problems

It also has become an interesting test for understanding erectile dysfunction, and can help a doctor decide whether or not to prescribe erection-enhancing drugs like Cialis, says Rubin.

The same device that tests for heart health can also tell urologists whether or not to prescribe medicine. “It could protect them from malpractice,” says Rubin.

Essentially, using this device doctors have a much better way now to control a patient’s health to determine if they are at risk of a heart attack. “The importance of the Mayo Clinic story is that today when you go to your physicians or cardiologist, they will ask you seven questions, or risk factors for heart disease, like cholesterol levels, if you smoke, or are overweight,” says Rubin.

Sometimes there are people who are considered completely low risk based on these basic questions, but nevertheless are at risk for heart disease. The study examined 240 people who are “specimens of health”, tacking them over time, and recording cardiac events, such as chest pains or heart attacks.

The efficacy of the test was confirmed by doctors at Mayo. The clinic writes: “Results of a Mayo Clinic study show that a simple, non-invasive finger sensor test is ‘highly predictive’ of a major cardiac event, such as a heart attack or stroke, for people who are considered at low or moderate risk, according to researchers.”

Mayo’s seal of approval

The device is now available at doctors’ clinics in the US, including the clinic of The View’s house doctor Dr. Stephen Lamm.

Endorsing the product, Lamm says he uses it on every patient, translating to about 200 times a month.

On the show, Whoopi scored a 1.9, “and she was excited,” says Rubin. “The real truth is the arterial sclerosis process starts early on in life. This will become part of the screening and treatment process,” he adds, mentioning that China is taking a serious look at the device too. “They can’t afford heart bypasses and stents.”

The EndoPAT has applications in wellness and holistic medicine as a means to quantify if a treatment is working.

The company has a second device, a product that functions like a mini sleep lab used to detect the severity of sleep apnea. Called the WatchPAT it resembles a ski or diving watch. It removes the need for people to spend uncomfortable nights in a sleep lab.

Traded on the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange, the largest investor in Itamar Medical is Medtronic. The company employs about 160 people worldwide.

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About Karin Kloosterman

Karin Kloosterman lives in Jaffa, Israel. She is a journalist, writer and blogger who focuses on the environment and clean technology from Israel and the Middle East. Published in hundreds of newspapers around the world, Karin also writes for the Huffington Post and Green Prophet.