Dignity Health launches groundbreaking study to combat heart disease
PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) - If you were likely to have a heart attack in the future, would you want to know? Half of all Americans are expected to have one cardiac event in their lifetime. A Dignity Health study could help this no longer be true here in Arizona. It’s the first one in North America where genetic testing is used to identify individuals at risk for heart disease.
“I thought this would be a great way to get involved in the study,” Phoenix resident Soilo Felix said. “And also learn a little bit more about my risks for heart disease and all that comes with it.
It took maybe a couple of seconds for Soilo to get on board with Dignity Health’s genetic testing study. “I’m a science geek at heart,” he said. “I love editing science.”
Once Soilo was a part of it, his wife Amy wanted in on the process. The study plans to feature two thousand men and women between the ages of 40 and 60 who have no known history of heart disease. Using individuals’ DNA from a blood test and preexisting genetic markers known to cause heart disease, the cardiology team at Dignity Health will determine if an individual has a low, medium, or high chance of future heart issues.
“We feel this should be the last century for heart disease,” Dignity Health Medical Director of Cardiovascular Genomics Dr. Robert Roberts said. “It should go from number one [most common cause of death] to number 20 or number 30 or something like that. Since it is preventable.”
Those who want to know their results and end up with an elevated risk of heart disease will then be able to return a few weeks later to discuss preventive treatment options.
“People think that if it’s in your DNA, you can’t do anything about it,” Roberts said. “That’s a myth. I think that all of them, or most of them, upon counseling will initiate drug therapy or changes in lifestyle or both to prevent heart disease.”
Thankfully, the Felixes wanted to know; their results showed they had an intermediate risk of future heart disease.
“I know that unknown now,” Amy said. “First thing was eating better. Not just eating a bunch of fried foods and breaded foods, but more vegetables, more salads, and fruits.”
And now that they know how their genetics translate to heart disease, the Felixes aren’t just doing it for themselves but also for their 13-year-old daughter.
“We can get her into a healthy lifestyle and healthy habits,” Solio said. “She can make her risk maybe be a little bit lower than our risks.”
Both the blood test and counseling are free. If you’d like to participate in the study, call 602-406-1156 or 480-728-9979.
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