Gene Test Could Catch Deadly Heart Problem

With the exception of those patients with Marfan syndrome and those with a family history of aortic dissection, no screening program is in place to identify patients at risk for aortic dissection, Rimmerman said.

"Should those patients predisposed to aortic dissection be reliably identified, this would permit heightened attention to lifestyle modification, blood pressure control, and the preemptive administration of certain medications such as beta blockers," Rimmerman said. "Additionally, in those patients identified as high-risk, this would undoubtedly involve focused efforts at aortic imaging," he said.

Rimmerman cautioned, however, that this was a small study and would need to be replicated in a larger patient group before such testing could be ready for clinical use.

More information

For more on aortic dissection, visit the American Heart Association.

SOURCES: Curtis Rimmerman, M.D., Gus P. Karos Chair, Clinical Cardiovascular Medicine, and staff cardiologist, Cleveland Clinic, Ohio; July 30, 2008, presentation, American Heart Association's Basic Cardiovascular Sciences Conference, Keystone, Colo.

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