Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death worldwide. While there have been great strides in preventing it, the hardest part has been figuring out who is at high risk, especially since men and women often have different symptoms.
Now, a new sex-specific blood test is helping answer that.
Whether challenging herself to a game of ping pong, or taking her dog "puppy" out for a walk, Mandy Welsheimer tries to stay active especially since she has a family history of heart disease.
"Both my grandfathers had coronary artery disease,” says Mandy Welsheimer. “One died of a heart attack when he was 56, and the other one ended up with a pacemaker."
When she began to have chest pain, she decided to take a first of its kind blood test to determine her risk.
"This test actually looks at what's going on right now at the molecular level in your particular body and then can tell us what your chance of having a problem is right now," explains Dr. Alan Grossman a Medical Director of Non-Invasive Cardiology at the Heart and Vascular Center of Arizona.
The corus cad test works by measuring the activity of 23 genes in your blood that change when there's a blockage in the arteries. The test comes up with a score indicating your likelihood of a blockage and is the first to be sex-specific. Two multi-center trials found it more accurate than the current standard, nuclear stress testing, with a 96 percent negative predictive value versus 88 percent. Meaning if the test says you don't have CAD, there's a 96 percent chance you don't have a major blockage.
"It certainly is a huge relief for a lot of patients," says Dr. Grossman.
Mandy's score came back low.
"Which put my mind at ease" says Mandy.
Doctor Grossman says the new test can help doctors decide if invasive approaches are necessary for patients.
The test is currently covered under Medicare.
TOPIC: Let's talk about sex! New test for heart disease
REPORT: MB # 3633
BACKGROUND: Coronary arteries have a very important function of carrying blood to the heart, but for people with coronary artery disease (CAD), these arteries are damaged or diseased causing blood flow to the heart to be restricted. Atherosclerosis, which is the hardening of arteries, is a common cause of these blockages because cholesterol-containing deposits called plaques begin to build up on the inner wall of the artery. Because the heart is not getting enough blood and oxygen, coronary artery disease can lead to angina, and if the blood flow is completely blocked, heart attack. (Source: www.mayoclinic.com)
SYMPTOMS: Coronary artery disease builds over time, so symptoms may not be apparent until the disease has progressed. Possible signs of coronary artery disease are:
* Angina (most common symptom)
* Shortness of Breath
* Heart Palpitations
* Extreme Weakness
* A Faster Heartbeat (Source: www.clevelandclinic.org)
RISKS FACTORS: In order to prevent coronary artery disease before real damage is done to the heart, people need to know the common risk factors for the disease. These risk factors include: smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure, a family history of heart disease, and high levels of LDL cholesterol. Women are also at an increased risk of CAD after menopause while men's CAD risk rises after the age of 45. Lifestyle changes can help to control some of these risk factors, such as smoking and high cholesterol, but others are hereditary. People with a family history of heart disease should monitor their heart health closely and live a healthy lifestyle. (Source: www.heart.org)
NEW TECHNOLOGY: When people are concerned that they may have CAD or a coronary blockage, doctors would traditionally use X-rays, monitored exercise tests, or invasive procedures to see if there is any problem in the heart. However, these tests can be unpleasant and sometimes do not return definite results. Now, the Corus CAD blood test can assess whether a person has coronary artery disease in a faster and simpler manner without exposing patients to any radiation. The Corus CAD is especially beneficial in diagnosing women, who can sometimes have false positives with other tests, because it is the first test to take key biological differences between the sexes into account. For the test, a blood sample is taken and then the test measures the activity of specific genes that change when there is an arterial blockage. The test then scores the likelihood of the patient having a blockage. Diabetics, people who have already had a heart attack, and people using steroids, immunosuppressive agents or chemotherapeutic agents should not use the Corus CAD. (Source: www.cardiodx.com)
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