Genetic test can show risk for heart attack, dementia and more

Genetic test for heart attack, dementia risk

Much like the BRCA genetic test revolutionized the approach to detecting and treating breast and ovarian cancer, doctors are now utilizing genetic testing in the field of cardiovascular health.

It's called apoE genetic testing, and it's used to detect heart attacks or dementia before they happen.

At 45, Kameron Allen is taking control of her health.

"I take yoga, I try to run, I watch what I eat," said Allen, a mother of two.

Recently, her father -- who is in his 70s -- started showing early signs of dementia. That got Allen thinking.

"I didn't want to hear it, but then I want to know what that really means for our family," she said.

Allen allowed News 8 to come along for special genetic testing at Diamond Physicians in Frisco. Through simple blood work, doctors can use DNA to pinpoint Allen's risk for Alzheimer's, cardiovascular disease, and stroke.

"Each one of us has this gene, but each one of us has a different make up of this gene," said Dr. Shahan Chowdhury.

Through imaging, doctors can examine how you metabolize cholesterol. People in two of four categories have higher risk for stroke or heart disease.

Inflammation in the lining of your blood vessel walls can determine your exposure to other diseases, too, from cholesterol and diabetes to blood pressure and thyroid problems.

"That inflammation can really affect that lining and cause all those problems," Dr. Chowdhury said. "Not just vascular disease, but mental disease, too -- dementia."

Armed with family history plus apoE genetic testing, Allen can adjust her lifestyle to maintain her health and her daughters'.  

"If this is going to happen in my time, I want to enjoy what I have now and plan ahead for that," Allen said.

Most insurance will cover this genetic testing, which cost around $70. 

Copyright 2016 WFAA


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