Apr. 18, 2002 MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL -- Individuals without symptoms of cardiovascular disease may already have early heart or blood vessel disease, according to researchers at the University of Minnesota's Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention. The research, part of a presentation at the National Cardiovascular Health Conference 2002 in Washington, D.C., April 11–12, found that more than half of asymptomatic patients screened in the center have early disease, which can be detected through comprehensive testing before the heart is affected.
"Vascular and cardiac disease can be detected long before complications develop," said Jay Cohn, M.D., University of Minnesota cardiologist and director of the Rasmussen Center. Early detection is important, Cohn said, because early intervention should slow the progression of disease and reduce the incidence of heart attacks and strokes in susceptible individuals. "Unfortunately, the current health care system does not provide early detection strategies," he said. "A national program aimed at early detection could strikingly reduce morbidity and health care costs."
Cohn and his colleagues at the Rasmussen Center reported on the first 333 asymptomatic individuals screened, using 17 tests designed to detect early vascular and cardiac abnormalities and blood tests to identify potential targets for risk contributor intervention.
Screening a healthy, affluent population revealed a high prevalence of covert and overt disease that is not being adequately treated. "Required treatments for individuals with early heart and blood vessel disease range from lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise or weight loss, to drug therapy for hypertension, diabetes or cholesterol management," said Cohn. "Our early experience suggests that individuals with risks such as family history of heart disease should be screened for detection of early disease."
The Rasmussen Center for Cardiovascular Disease Prevention, located at the University of Minnesota, opened in January 2001 to screen ostensibly healthy individuals in the Twin Cities community for detection of early markers for vascular and cardiac disease. A comprehensive array of noninvasive testing, not routinely available, was developed using techniques that have either been established or advocated for early detection.
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