Traditional echocardiograms could help measure cardiovascular stiffness

Researchers at the University of Missouri College of Engineering say they used data from echocardiograms to measure cardiovascular stiffness. Using the data from traditional echocardiograms, the researchers say they could measure the rigidity of the arteries in the heart. Currently, according to the researchers, no clinical way for doctors to measure aortic stiffness exists. Pulse wave velocity tests (PWV) have been used to measure this metric, but only in research settings. The research team believes their method could revolutionize precision heart healthcare, according to the University of Missouri website. “I consider this the most important work I’ve done in my career,” said Noah Manring, a professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering. “We have an incredible opportunity to collaborate with cardiologists and physicians to implement this into monitoring that’s already being done to provide better, more precise information to help determine treatment options.” Maggie Oliver, a postdoctoral student in mechanical engineering working with Manring on the project, said PWV is seen as the gold standard. However, it only measures how quickly pressure waves generated by the heartbeat travel along the arteries, she said. Without any standardization of the method, even if hospitals adopted PWV, health insurance would not cover it. The Missouri team published preliminary data on their potentially revolutionary method in the American Society of Mechanical Engineers’ Journal of Engineering and Science in Medical Diagnostics and Therapy. It provides data from echocardiograms in a small sample of patients at University Hospital. The team said its method expresses mean arterial pressure as the product of cardiac output and peripheral resistance. “Our method is actually better, not only because you can extract the aortic stiffness measurement from existing data, but also because it provides more precise data,” Manring said. “The methods developed in this research use standard clinical examinations that are routinely paid for by insurance, so it would extend the benefits of total cardiovascular assessment to a much wider patient group.”
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