Small box holds big promise in cardiac care


London, Ontario – For a non-descript box it wields a mighty name and even more impressive possibilities for people with heart disease. Called the AngioDefender, the machine – no bigger than a shoebox - holds much promise in the ability to personalize cardiac care, say researchers at Lawson Health Research Institute, the research arm of St. Joseph’s Health Care London.

St. Joseph’s Hospital in London is the only Canadian cardiac rehabilitation centre testing the AngioDefender, a non-invasive tool that can assess the health of blood vessels by using a simple blood pressure cuff. At the recent Canadian Cardiovascular Congress in Toronto, Lawson researchers presented findings of their study, which assessed the feasibility and reliability of the AngioDefender in patients undergoing cardiac rehabilitation.  

“Right now everyone basically gets similar treatment in terms of maximizing therapy based on risk factor profiles,” says Dr. Neville Suskin, Lawson scientist and medical director of St. Joseph’s Cardiac Rehabilitation and Secondary Prevention Program. “With this machine, if it does what we hope it will do, it gives us insight into a person’s vascular health so that we can know if the treatment is working and adjust and individualize their care.”

Also key, says Dr. Suskin, is the machine can be used by any medical professional in any doctor’s office.

The AngioDefender system, manufactured by Everist Health, measures the health of the endothelium — the interior lining of blood vessels. Using a blood pressure cuff, the device runs through a series of inflations and deflations to analyze the endothelium’s response to changes in blood flow. When the blood pressure cuff is inflated, blood flow decreases and stops. When the blood pressure cuff deflates, blood flow increases and the main artery in the arm responds by getting bigger (dilating). How well it dilates is a sign of endothelial (vascular) health. 

Using a specially designed data analysis algorithm, the AngioDefender system produces each patient’s “flow-mediated dilation” score. When the information is combined with the patient’s other risk factors, it calculates the patient’s vascular age. The whole process takes 15 to 20 minutes.

“The ability for a health professional to obtain a measure of vascular health in such a straightforward manner is very novel” says Dr. Suskin, whose team has found that the machine is feasible to use in a busy cardiac rehabilitation practice setting. “It doesn’t take long, patients tolerate it, and they are also very keen to know their vascular health as determined by this machine.”

If successful, the device may become part of the standard screening to assess early-stage cardiovascular disease and atherosclerosis, and an innovative way to monitor the effectiveness of treatment.


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About Lawson Health Research Institute

Lawson Health Research Institute is one of Canada’s top hospital-based research institutes, tackling the most pressing challenges in health care. As the research institute of London Health Sciences Centre and St. Joseph’s Health Care London, our innovation happens where care is delivered. Lawson research teams are at the leading-edge of science with the goal of improving health and the delivery of care for patients. Working in partnership with Western University, our researchers are encouraged to pursue their curiosity, collaborate often and share their discoveries widely. Research conducted through Lawson makes a difference in the lives of patients, families and communities around the world. To learn more, visit

About St. Joseph’s Health Care London

Renowned for compassionate care, St. Joseph’s Health Care London is a leading academic health care centre in Canada dedicated to helping people live to their fullest by minimizing the effects of injury, disease and disability through excellence in care, teaching and research. Through partnership with Lawson Health Research Institute and our collaborative engagement with other health care and academic partners, St. Joseph’s has become an international leader in the areas of: chronic disease management; medical imaging; specialized mental health care; rehabilitation and specialized geriatrics; and surgery. St. Joseph’s operates through a wide range of hospital, clinic and long-term and community-based settings, including: St. Joseph’s Hospital; Parkwood Institute; Mount Hope Centre for Long Term Care; and the Southwest Centre for Forensic Mental Health Care. 

Media Contacts
Celine Zadorsky

Communications Consultant & External Relations
Lawson Health Research Institute
T: 519-685-8500 ext. 75664
C. 519-619-3872