September 30, 2009

Gene Tests Rate Sudden Cardiac Death Risk

By Kelley Luckstein

New genetic studies are being made available to doctors and patients every day.

To kick off our "Early Show" series, "What's in Your Genes?" CBS News medical correspondent Dr. Jennifer Ashton took a look at some of the genetic advances being made -- and the medical battles that are being won.

Since mapping the human genome was completed in 2003, Ashton said researchers and doctors have found ways of translating discoveries into clinical applications to benefit patients. Now once hard-to-detect diseases are being treated.

Sharon Brown, a breast cancer survivor, recently visited the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. to undergo a new round of clinical tests for Long QT syndrome, a rare heart disease that affects one in 4,000 Americans. Ashton pointed out the first sign of the disease often is very severe: sudden cardiac death.

Brown's father died at age 56 of a heart attack, and her grandfather died of a heart attack, as well. But today, Ashton said, doctors can combine Sharon's family history with genetic testing to better determine her risk for having the disease.

Dr. Michael Ackerman, a pediatric cardiologist at the Mayo Clinic, said, "We are really now doing personalized genomic medicine for this disease of Long QT syndrome."

Ackerman was one of the people who helped develop the genetic test...


CBS – The Early Show with Dr. Jennifer Ashton, 09/30/09

Tags: Cancer, Cardiology, Long QT

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