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Could patients' knowledge of their DNA lead to better outcomes?

What if seeing genetic-test results related to your risk for a disease helped motivate you to reduce that risk? A team of Stanford researchers led by Joshua Knowles, MD, PhD, want to find out whether that could be the case for people at risk for coronary artery disease. As I discuss in a news release today, they've launched a clinical trial during which:

Stanford Hospital & Clinics physicians will tell some of the patients recruited for the randomized trial whether they have any genetic markers for coronary artery disease, the leading cause of death in the United States. The researchers want to see whether these patients, armed with their genetic information, make positive changes to their lifestyle and eating habits, as well as adhere more faithfully to their prescribed drug regimens, compared with members of a control group.

There is some evidence, based on a few European studies, that people react more to genetic information than to traditional diagnostic evaluations. “It’s a concept called genetic exclusivity,” Knowles said. “It’s surprising and not necessarily intuitive.”

Knowles also told me there's a "huge need" for study in this area, in part because the American Heart Association has concluded that, given the absence of data on how genetic testing actually affects patient outcomes, there isn't enough information to advocate for such testing.

For those local readers interested in learning more or possibly enrolling, contact Aleksandra Pavlovic at (650) 736-1147 or apavlovi@stanford.edu.

Photo by blarfiejandro

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