A physiologist believes he has discovered a new technique to ascertain the condition of the heart - more specifically, the aorta.
A physiologist from the University of Iowa believes that medical professionals may be able to ascertain whether or not the aorta has stiffened by using an instrument clipped to the end of an individual's figure to measure pulse.
The technique - conceived by assistant professor in the Department of Health and Human Physiology at the institution Gary Pierce - may prove to be invaluable as a stiffened aorta can be a tell-tale sign of heart disease.
Published in the American Journal of Physiology entitled Heart and Circulatory Physiology, his findings could therefore help physicians to identify patients who are at a greater risk of cardiovascular complications.
"Finding simple non-invasive methods to measure aortic pulse wave velocity in the clinic may help physicians to better inform middle-aged and older adults about their level of cardiovascular risk," the expert said.
The process takes the form of a reading from the device - called a transducer - attached to the finger, which is then combined with information about a patient's age and body mass index in order to reach a conclusion about the aorta's condition.
At the moment, the same process can be carried out, but by taking a reading from the carotid artery in the neck or the femoral artery in the groin. However, recording the information from a patient's finger is far easier - especially for obese patients, from whom it can be difficult to attain a reliable femoral reading.
While individuals may not be able to actively control many aspects of their heart's health, there are lifestyle changes and decisions that people can make which can give themselves the best possible chance of maintaining a healthy heart.
This could be to make sure they consciously exercise at least three or four times a week, while also following a healthy, balanced diet - avoiding saturated fats and consuming plenty of fruit and vegetables.
One other way for people to give their health a boost may be to take healthfood supplements to ensure they are getting all of the right amounts of the essential vitamins, minerals and nutrients that the body needs to function.
An example of such a complex would be AlphaGuard Plus, available from the Really Healthy Company. It is a unique full-spectrum antioxidant complex and one of the best of its kind on the healthfood market, serving as a source of vitamin C, grape seed extract, zinc, vitamin E, green tea extract and beta-carotene, amongst other substances.