New blood test can help doctors better diagnose heart disease

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Kim Johnson has a family history ravaged with fatal heart disease and heart attacks.  While she's in good health at 57, Johnson began to worry her genes had caught up with her when fatigue suddenly overwhelmed her day to day activities.

"I wanted an answer, because as I'm aging I knew that this could be problem," said the Baton Rouge resident.

Johnson's symptoms and family history made her a perfect candidate for a new blood test call Corus CAD.

"It gives us a biological look into that person's state of health with respect for the coronary arteries at that point in time," said lipidologist Dr. Robert St. Amant.

The simple blood test breaks down a patient's DNA to locate 23 specific genes.  When a patient has coronary artery disease, those genes change.  Based on a person's age, sex and how much those genes have changed, clinicians can determine how likely it is that any symptoms are caused by heart disease.  Doctors can then make treatment recommendations based on the results, saving time and possibly money.

"Now with the Corus CAD, we get to the diagnosis, let's say a little quicker, because once we've ruled out heart disease we've taken perhaps the most serious problem off the table and now we can work on the other things," said St. Amant.

St. Amant has been using the Corus test since it was first developed three years ago and has taken part in several studies on its use.  He says this test is especially helpful for women because women present very different heart disease symptoms than men.

Those symptoms include fatigue, neck pain and chest discomfort.

"I like to say it has a special place in the hearts of women because it helps us direct their care more appropriately," said St. Amant.

Johnson's test indicated that her fatigue was not the result of coronary artery disease.

"It has eased my mind that the next time I have aches and pains I can eliminate this from being a possible issue or a major heart attack waiting to happen," said Johnson.

St. Amant says this test is not for every patient.  Those who qualify include people who have symptoms of heart disease, have not been diagnosed with heart disease, but may have family history.

According to the developer's website, the test is covered by Medicare and the developer is working for more private insurance coverage. Because the test is new, not all doctors offer it.  Ask your physician for more information.

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