Researchers employ genetic testing to determine the risk of developing cardiovascular disease

Dignity Health in Arizona is introducing the first research study in North America that will use genetic testing to pinpoint men and women who are at risk of developing a cardiovascular disease based on the composition of their DNA. If this type of genetic testing is shown to be beneficial in clinical trials, it could be used worldwide to prevent heart disease.

Heart Disease

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Heart disease is the leading cause of death worldwide, in fact, half of all Americans are expected to experience at least one cardiac event during their lifetime.

The cardiology team at Dignity Health Chandler Regional Medical Center, Mercy Gilbert Medical Center, and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Medical Center would gather DNA samples from roughly 2,000 men and women with no recognized history of heart problems over the period of the research.

The DNA samples will then be analyzed at Baylor College of Medicine’s Human Genome Sequencing Center Clinical Lab to see if the people who participated have genetic markers that are associated with heart disease.

This should be the last century of heart disease. I am hopeful that through the results of this study we will be able to save even more lives in the future by implementing genetic testing for early prevention of coronary artery disease as routine clinical application. This approach would represent a paradigm shift in the prevention of this disease.”

Dr Robert Roberts MD, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Genomics, Dignity Health, Arizona

Following the completion of the DNA genotyping, the group at Dignity Health hospitals in Arizona will analyze each participant’s genetic markers to evaluate whether they have a low, medium, or high risk of developing heart disease. Other health and lifestyle factors will be taken into consideration when assessing the participants’ risk of heart disease.

This would include, among other things, hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and whether or not the participant smokes or is physically active.

Participants in the study who have generated an interest in learning their outcomes will be informed by letter. Individuals who are at high genetic risk of cardiovascular disease will be able to meet with cardiology specialists and receive genetic counseling as needed based on the result obtained and effective prevention possible treatments.

It’s important for study participants to have the support they need when going through genetic testing. The genetic counseling team will work closely with the participants who choose to learn of their results to help them understand the findings of their genetic test and what this means moving forward. Cardiologists will also be available to consult with participants and explain how they can prevent developing coronary artery disease.”

Dr Robert Roberts MD, Medical Director, Cardiovascular Genomics, Dignity Health, Arizona

Men and women between the ages of 40 and 60 are qualified to take part in this study. They must also have no recognized history of heart problems, as the study’s goal is to evaluate their genetic risk of getting heart disease before it occurs.

The study’s duration is expected to be around 10 years. During the first two years, participants’ DNA samples will be analyzed to determine their risk of developing heart disease. Throughout the rest of the study, investigators will check in on participants on an annual basis to see how their heart health is, if they have made any lifestyle changes and if they have decided to pursue preventive treatment.

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