Easy ‘thumb test’ may identify fatal heart condition, researchers suggest

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A simple “thumb palm test” may indicate whether someone has an ascending aortic aneurysm, or a potentially fatal ballooning of a large artery in the heart, researchers say, suggesting the test be included in standard physical exams, especially for those with a family history of aortic aneurysm.

Experts affiliated with the Yale-New Haven Hospital aortic institute published findings last week in the American Journal of Cardiology, drawing on results from 305 patients undergoing heart surgery. The patients had varying disorders including ascending aneurysm, valve repair and coronary artery bypass grafting.

Researchers found that positive “thumb palm tests,” or the “thumb crossing beyond the edge of the palm” often correlated with diagnosis of an aortic aneurysm. According to a related release posted by Yale University, “being able to move the thumb in that way is an indication that a patient’s long bones are excessive and their joints are lax — possible signs of connective tissue disease throughout the body, including the aorta.”

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