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Simple, non-invasive test reveals coronary artery disease in patients with no symptoms


Toronto, ON – A simple, non-invasive test that measures skin tissue cholesterol has demonstrated its ability to detect subclinical vascular disease, according to new data to be presented this week at the 54th Annual Scientific Session of the American College of Cardiology, in Orlando, Florida.

Skin tissue cholesterol, or skin sterol, measured non-invasively by the point of care skin sterol test, has a strong correlation to increased carotid intima-media thickness (CIMT), a well-established marker of atherosclerosis.

“This is some of the most exciting data ever collected on skin sterol testing and early detection of heart disease,” says Dr Brent Norton, president and CEO, IMI International Medical Innovations, the developer of the test. “The data strongly support previous findings that skin sterol correlates with angiographically proven coronary artery disease.”

The product tests the amount of sterol in the skin tissues. The test does not require the drawing of blood or a special pre-test diet and takes less than five minutes to perform. It is currently being commercialized in the US and Canada, where it will be made available as a point of care test. CIMT, which refers to the thickness of the first two inner layers of the carotid artery wall, is an independent predictor of myocardial infarction and stroke.

“More than half of the men and women who die from heart disease, die suddenly without any prior symptoms,” says Dr James Stein, principal investigator of the study. “There is considerable interest in non-invasive, simple and rapidly administered tests to better assess which patients are at risk. This strong association with increased CIMT suggests that skin sterol testing may help to identify asymptomatic patients who could benefit from more intensive interventions.”

The study, conducted at the University of Wisconsin Medical School, included 81 patients without known vascular disease who were referred for determination of CIMT. Patients underwent B-mode ultrasonography of the carotid arteries and measurement of skin sterol using the test. CIMT was significantly higher among patients in the highest quartile of skin sterol (p = 0.017). Skin sterol was associated with increased CIMT even after adjusting for age, sex, glucose, systolic blood pressure, total high-density lipoprotein cholesterol ratio, and use of lipid-lowering therapy (p = 0.031).

The findings of the study, titled Skin Cholesterol Content Identifies Subclinical Atherosclerosis in Asymptomatic Adults, by Wendy S Tzou, Maureen E Mays, Claudia E Korcarz, Susan E Aeschlimann and James H Stein, will be published in the American Heart Journal later this year.