A pioneering NHS study called Heart offered over 1000 individuals a genetic test to better understand their risk of heart disease in the following decade. The study was carried out by GPs in the North Cumbria and the north-east and targeted those in the 45-64 age bracket.
The study had a dramatic effect: about a quarter of patients’ risk changed when their DNA was taken into account alongside typical measures, such as weight, smoking status and family history. In 13% of cases, the risk elevation was enough to force doctors to alter their management of the patient, for instance, by offering them statins.
The company who created the test estimated that almost a million people in England in the same age category were at high enough risk of heart disease to be recommended statins. However, they remained invisible to the NHS without genomic intervention. Moreover, they estimated that prescribing statins to this group would prevent 11,000 cardiovascular events over the next decade.
Hopefully this increases the clamour for further genetic-based tests in the NHS as our health service tries to become a more preventative model to save lives and vital NHS funds.