PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — Every 39 seconds an adult dies from heart disease. In an effort to change those statistics, local doctors are turning to personalized medicine to better treat patients.
55-year-old Carol Huff is being treated for high blood pressure. Doctors were also concerned about her borderline high cholesterol, and were thinking about putting her on medication.
“I wondered whether or not I really needed to be on it,” said Carol.
To take the guesswork out of the decision cardiologists at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania are turning to a more personalized approach to determine Carol’s risk for heart disease.
“The ability to assess inherited risk for heart disease I think is critically important because it allows us to go beyond just the standard risk factors which we know are far from perfect in predicting who’s at risk,” said Dr. Daniel Rader, who is leading Penn’s research for their new Cardiac DNA bank.
Patients who have borderline high blood pressure or cholesterol, like Carol, are now given a specialized blood test. The patients genetic makeup is then compared to known genetic mutations associated with future cardiac problems.
“This is a test that gives us increased information about the probability of developing a very serious potentially fatal disease and allows us to tailor our therapies more specifically to that individual based on their genetic makeup,” said Dr. Rader.
For Carol, the results were in her favor. The test showed she’s at lower than average risk.
“I’m thrilled. I’m very happy that these were the results,” said Carol.
The test is covered by most insurance companies, and can predict if a patient is two times more likely than an average person to develop heart disease.
To make an appointment with a doctor in Penn’s Preventative Cardiology Program call 1-800-789-7366.
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Reported By Stephanie Stahl, CBS 3