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Scripps Will Do Genetic Tests On Heart Patients

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Aired 10/12/09

Scripps Health has begun to perform genetic tests on heart patients to decide what drugs they should receive.

— Scripps Health has begun performing genetic tests on heart patients to decide what drugs they should receive.

Scripps Green Hospital performs about 2,000 cardiac stent operations a year. Now the patients who get stents will receive a genetic test to determine whether their bodies can benefit from the drug Plavix. Stents are placed in arteries to hold them open, and Plavix is used to prevent arterial blood clotting which can cause heart attacks. But many patients have a gene variation that makes Plavix ineffective. Dr. Eric Topol, of Scripps Health, says testing for that gene is a step forward in personalized medicine.

"Importantly, it also gets rid of lots of the waste in medicine," he said. "These are expensive drugs and when you can match up the right drug, the right patient, the right dose, it's a much more economical way to practice medicine."

He says patients with the gene variation can use alternative drugs or, in some cases, a much higher dose of Plavix.

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