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Heart disease risk: New genetic test could offer stronger early detection

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You know your cholesterol, your blood pressure … your heart gene score? Researchers say a new way of analyzing genetic test data may one day help identify people at high risk of a youthful heart attack in time to help.

[August 13], researchers reported a new way to measure millions of small genetic variations that add up to cause harm, letting them calculate someone’s inherited risk for the most common form of heart disease and four other serious disorders. The potential cardiac impact: They estimated that up to 25 million Americans may have triple the average person’s risk for coronary artery disease even if they haven’t yet developed warning signs like high cholesterol.

If the approach pans out and doctors adopt it, a bad score wouldn’t mean you’d get a disease, just that your genetic makeup increases the chance — one more piece of information in deciding care. For example, when the researchers tested the system using a DNA database from Britain, less than 1 percent of people with the lowest risk scores were diagnosed with coronary artery disease, compared to 11 percent of people with the highest risk score.

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“There are things you can do to lower the risk,” [researcher Sekar] Kathiresan said — the usual advice about diet, exercise, cholesterol medication and not smoking helps. On the flip side, a low-risk score “doesn’t give you a free pass,” he added.

Read full, original post: Multi-gene test may find risk for heart disease and more

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