Pulse Wave Analysis: Screening For Heart Disease
What is it?
Of the newer technologies in the early detection of heart disease developed over the past 20 years, Pulse Wave Analysis (PWA) has emerged as one of central importance.
PWA is a simple, non-invasive test which measures each pulse emanating from the heart, and is conveniently measured at the wrist, thus not requiring disrobing, lying down or exercise.
How does it work?
The computer takes the information from the pulse at the wrist and calculates, via a transfer function, the pressure at the heart – the central pressure.
This information enables arterial stiffness in small and large arteries to be measured which has been shown to be an accurate predictor of future cardiac risk.
Why is this important?
This technology adds to the traditional prediction calculations for cholesterol, smoking, blood pressure, diabetes and family history.
How is it used in practice?
The traditional Exercise Stress Test which tests for the “reality” of blocked arteries is not a ” crystal ball” test which has predictive value. The difference between PWA and stress testing is that PWA looks at the arterial wall where the disease is building up decades before it, in fact, ruptures, causing a clinical event. Pulse Wave Analysis is therefore a more legitimate screening test for heart disease than stress testing.