Freeman Medical Focus: Genetic Testing

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Advances in genetic testing could mean that patients could start learning about their risk for heart disease earlier – when there’s more chance to prevent an attack.

“That’s probably the wave of the future, genetic testing for cardiology. Because we always get these patients that don’t fit the normal mold and yet they have severe heart disease. And I think of Jim Fixx who was a famous runner back in the ’80s, who at age 50 dropped dead after she wrote books about running and diet and had severe coronary disease. So there is lots of subsets of people that we see that don’t have the common risk factors,” says Dr. Robert Stauffer.

Like smoking, obesity or diabetes – factors patients can change and improve their health.

“Not smoke, really make sure you watch your weight, exercise and other things to help prevent that. So if you can know that at a young age, that’s gives you a chance to cut the risk factors down over a long period of time,” says Dr. Stauffer.

Meaning the earlier you test – the great the impact. That could be testing for heart disease in your 20s.

“I think there’s no question that genetics play a role and you see that in families that have brothers and sisters that have minimal risk factors. Sometimes the risk factor is that everybody in the family smokes – it’s not genetics.  there are families that don’t smoke that have a lot of heart disease – there’s no question genetics plays a big part in this,” says Dr. Stauffer.

The Freeman Medical Focus was sponsored by Freeman Health System.

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