By Michelle Roberts, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Heart disease is the nation’s leading cause of death. Often, a person doesn’t even know they’re at risk until it is too late.

Itamar Medical, Inc. of Franklin has developed a simple device that can warn a patient years ahead of time if they are a likely candidate for a heart attack.

About one million Americans suffer from a heart attack each year.

Dr. Sivan Ebril, Itamar’s medical director, said, “We are seeing that 50% of patients that walk to emergency room with heart attack have no known conventional risk factors, so their first symptom is sudden death.”

Itamar Medical has developed the Endopat. It is a compact noninvasive device that yields results in about 15 minutes.

The Endopat disrupts normal circulation to test how the fingers react.

The lining of those vessels, known as the endothelium, can reveal important clues about the health of the heart.

Dr. Steven Reisman, a cardiologist, explained “the endothelium in the brachial artery of the arm is the same endothelium that’s in the heart. And studies a have shown that when that’s abnormal, the ones in the heart are abnormal.”

The Endopat gives each patient a simple score that is easy to understand.

Dr. Ebril added, “All the other risk assessment tools are based on anatomical changes, so you have to see something, imagine, how long it takes for something to develop, to be visible.”

So how far into the future can the Endopat look? Company officials say independent research supports their claim that this test can give a patient up a 7 year warning of potential trouble.

That appeals to Edward Murphy, who is trying the Endopat despite not having any heart disease symptoms. “I think it’s time to start checking and keeping any eye on things because I think you know, I’ve heard that everything goes downhill after 50.”

Dr. Ebril doesn’t think it has to be that way. She says such an early warning means minor changes in behavior can yield big results.

“Let’s say you are tested today, and you are taking some statins, but still your test result was not that good. It will give your physician another indication to change your regiment of treatment,” added Dr. Ebril.

The FDA has approved the Endopat it is expected to start showing up in area medical facilities.


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