Learn about a new test that measures the health of your blood vessels and heart
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Dr. David L. Katz: There are at least two good reasons why preventing diabetes is so important. First, diabetes is the serious health condition. Second though it is perhaps the major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Diabetes impairs the function of blood vessels damaging them leading to atherosclerosis which can cause heart attack. One of the things seen early in diabetes and even in the pre-diabetes states is impairment of endothelial function. This is probably not something you heard about although your doctor almost certainly has. We can measure how well blood vessels dilate when they should by stressing them and using and ultrasound technique we can measure in the brachial artery of the arm, the reactions that are going on in the coronary vessels that supply the heart. Now you might or might not have diabetes you might or might not have high blood pressure or high cholesterol or high homocysteine or high fibrinogen or high CRP all of these and many others besides are cardiac risk factors. How do you weigh up the net effect of all of those levels on your cardiovascular health while believe it or not with all the sophisticated testing we have today there is no simple test to answer that question. I believe and many others believe that endothelial function testing may serve that purpose in the very near future, it's like asking your blood vessel how is it going, all those things are floating by, are you happy, do you feel well today, by assessing how well blood vessels can dilate when they should, in essence that's what you are learning, just how it feels to function where that blood vessel lives and if your blood vessel is happy your risk of heart disease is low, in fact the correlation between endothelial function and cardiac risk is very, very strong. So, while this testing is not yet available in your doctor's office it's a research tool so far. I hope and think it may be coming soon to a doctor's office near you and then it becomes one more tool to give us knowledge about risk for cardiovascular disease and diabetes and that knowledge serves the power of prevention. For Vital Finds, I am David Katz.