Genetic testing helps doctors prescribe medication to heart patients

Nurse swabbing patient for genetic testing (Photo: Danner Evans).

LYNCHBURG, Va. (WSET) - Doctors now have a crystal ball of sorts to help treat those of you with heart conditions and it all has to do with your gene makeup.

Stroobants Cardiovascular Center in Lynchburg is now doing pharmacogenetic testing.

They swab your mouth, and send it off to determine your predisposition to how effective medications will be for you.

The test also reveals what kind of dosage you may need and what kind of combination of medications will work based on your genetics.

Cardiologist Dr. Mark Townsend works with the pharmacist and genetic counselor Jessica Watts.

"We use cholesterol medication routinely right, so rather than me guessing which medication you'll do well with we can do a genetics test and then we can say let's use medication A because it would be more likely not to have side effects," Townsend explained.

"We will review the results ahead of time, make a plan and go over the results with the patient in person," Watt said. "I think this is what people are wanting. They are wanting more indiv. care and how can you get more individualized other than learning about your genetic make up.

It takes about 6 to 8 days to get the test results back -- so turn around is relatively quick.

There is one draw back, not all insurance plans will cover the testing yet. So this might be something you want to discuss with your cardiologist to see if you are a candidate.

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