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Feature Article

Endothelial function testing: a novel tool for early detection of cardiovascular disease?

Kim H Chan, Mark R Adams

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Abstract

Endothelial dysfunction is a key early event in atherosclerotic disease. Testing of endothelial function may therefore allow early detection of those individuals at risk of atherosclerotic disease.

Key Points

  • Endothelial function testing is an emerging tool for early detection of vascular disease, especially in young asymptomatic patients, and has the potential to improve cardiovascular outcomes. These patients often first present to their GP for a routine medical ‘check-up’.
  • Endothelial dysfunction is associated with a range of traditional cardiovascular risk factors and worse outcomes.
  • Endothelial function testing that is noninvasive, easy to use, accurate and reproducible is now available.
  • Studies demonstrating early detection of vascular disease with endothelial function testing leading to improved clinical outcomes are currently lacking; therefore further studies are needed before the widespread and routine clinical use of this testing can be recommended.

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