By Ernest Hsu on Feb 14, 2019 10:24:00 AM
Sure, everybody knows that Valentine’s Day is the day you give away your heart to another. But that doesn’t mean your patients should neglect caring about their hearts.
Did you know that February is also American Heart Month? Since 1963, this annual celebration was started to encourage Americans to be more aware about their heart’s health. The recent lowering of sequencing costs has allowed genetic testing for cardiovascular diseases to be available for all patients. Let’s dig a little deeper and explore how genetic testing can help assess risk and differentially diagnose several major categories of heart disease.
Atherosclerosis: the silent killer
High levels of LDL cholesterol may be the reason why your patient’s arteries get clogged by plaque from either eating too many fatty foods, not exercising enough, smoking, or even, from getting older. Over time, without closely monitoring cholesterol levels, patients could eventually get a stroke or develop atherosclerosis. But, did you know high cholesterol can run in families too?
One of the diseases that can lead to atherosclerosis is familial hypercholesterolemia (FH), a high LDL cholesterol-related disease that could be as common as 1 in every 250 people in the United States. Fortunately, getting a genetic test for FH is simple, easy, and helps your patients get on the right statin or PCSK9 inhibitor. AtheroGxOne™ is one of our cardiovascular tests that identifies FH and other diseases that can lead to atherosclerosis.
Sudden Cardiac Death: Yes, it’s as serious as it sounds. But, do your patients know about it?
The next group of heart diseases may lead to sudden cardiac death (SCD): a disease that results from a sudden, unexpected loss of heart function, breathing, and consciousness. Oftentimes, people don’t know they have SCD and death can occur within an hour after the initial onset of symptoms. Three categories of disease can lead to SCD: cardiomyopathies, arrhythmias, and aortic vascular diseases.
Cardiomyopathies: a serious heart muscle disease
Cardiomyopathies refer to a set of heart muscle diseases that causes the heart’s muscle to become enlarged, thick, or rigid. Although myocardial infarctions (heart attacks), high blood pressure, infections, and other diseases can all cause a cardiomyopathy, some cardiomyopathies may be related to families. The CardioGxOne™ genetic test can tell you whether your patients have mutations in their DNA that have been linked to a cardiomyopathy.
Arrhythmias: the heart’s electrical beat
An arrhythmia refers to a set of heart diseases that is caused by a malfunction in the heart’s electrical system. For some people, their heart may beat too quickly, too slowly, or with an irregular pattern. Sometimes, arrhythmias may result from overexertion from exercise or activity. This abnormality can run in families depending on what gene mutation is inherited. CardioGxOne™ is one tool that can tell you whether your patient has mutations in their DNA that have been linked to an arrhythmia.
Aortic Vascular Diseases: arteries need attention too
Aortic vascular diseases are a lesser known category of diseases that can lead to SCD. Arteries help carry oxygen-rich blood away from the heart to the rest of the body. Enlargements or “bulges” can develop in weakened areas within the artery walls, leading to massive internal bleeding and eventually, death. There are many types of diseases that can lead to an aortic vascular disease such as Loeys-Dietz, Marfan, and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. CardioGxOne™ is one test that tests for these diseases.
As you can see, there are many factors that can determine whether your patient develops heart disease. No single test can account for all of these factors, but if you’re looking to be better equipped with the tools to help your patients, especially for American Heart Health month, either AtheroGxOne™ or CardioGxOne™ is a great place to start.
About the Author:
Ernest Hsu is Admera Health's Cardiovascular Product Manager. Please email him directly if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at 908-222-0533 ext. 3837.