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Bypass Angiogram With New Blood Test

The first ever blood test to find heart blockages is available in San Diego

Audio

Aired 10/5/10

The first of its kind blood test can determine whether or not there is a blockage in your heart. The new genetic-based blood test could drastically reduce the number of invasive and unnecessary heart procedures for about 700,000 Americans each year.

— The first of its kind blood test can determine whether or not there is a blockage in your heart. The new genetic based blood test could drastically reduce the number of invasive and unnecessary heart procedures.

A woman bypasses an angiogram with a new blood test.
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Above: A woman bypasses an angiogram with a new blood test.

More than 2 million Americans a year undergo angiograms—an invasive procedure used to find blocked arteries in the heart. But, recent independent reports reveal more than 60 percent of people who get angiograms don’t need them because they had no significant blockage.

What’s more surprising are about a third of all patients who got angiograms in the U.S. had no blockage whatsoever. That works out to about 700,000 people who got a procedure they didn’t need.

Women are over-prescribed angiograms more than men because stress tests and other preliminary exams result in more false positives tests in women.

Doctor Eric Topol of Scripps Translational Science Institute was skeptical a genetic blood test could help. But after leading a large clinical study of more than 500 people at Scripps Green Hospital and 38 other medical centers across the country, Topol validated the FDA approved genetic blood test with enthusiasm.

“If you can have a blood test that could be added to the equation to decide whether or not you should even do the angiograms, we could really decrease the number of angiograms, particularly in women.”

Topol also says angiograms are not risk free and can occasionally result in serious problems including death. He adds, the blood test is a lot like the genetic blood tests used for breast cancer.

“This is the first time that a gene expression signature has been applied to heart disease. It’s been used in cancer, particularly breast cancer, but it’s the first time it’s being used in heart disease."

The heart block blood test is made by CardioDX, a cardiovascular genomic diagnostic company based in Palo Alto.

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