Customized care for heart stent patients now available

heart stent: older man getting checked on by a nurse

Physicians and researchers at Sanford Health continue to find new, better ways to treat our heart stent patients. One promising method is genomic medicine, which is being incorporated into primary care for our patients.

And for our heart patients, we’re bringing a new level of customized care. It started with a group of researchers led by University of Florida Health and included Sanford Health. The group found that a quick, precise genetic test can significantly reduce the risk of heart attacks for heart stent patients.

Looking for more news like this? Subscribe to our newsletter

The test identifies a genetic defect that affects the body’s ability to activate clopidogrel. Known by the brand name Plavix, this common anti-clotting drug is prescribed after a heart stent is inserted. During a recent study from the National Institutes of Health’s Implementing Genomics in Practice (IGNITE) Network, researchers analyzed outcomes in 1,815 patients who had genetic testing at the time of their cardiac procedure. The testing allows physicians to pinpoint the best anti-clotting medication for each patient.

Providing precise tools

“The results of this study are truly remarkable,” said Tom Stys, M.D., medical director and interventional cardiologist at Sanford Heart Hospital in Sioux Falls.  “The information derived from this study gives us a precise tool to improve the outcomes of numerous patients not only at Sanford Health but across the nation. What we witnessed will certainly change the standard of care and the way cardiologists practice.”

The study reported significant results: Patients with the genetic deficiency received a different, more effective medication. Using patients’ DNA to guide changes in therapy reduced the percentage of deaths, heart attacks or strokes by nearly half compared with those who continued taking clopidogrel.

About 30 percent of all patients have a genetic deficiency that impairs their ability to activate the drug. This can lead to decreased effectiveness and increased risk for stroke, heart attack or death. Having timely access to a patient’s genetic information helps as physicians work to prescribe the most appropriate medicine.

In addition to pinpointing the best drug for patients, the genetic testing is efficient. On average during the study, a patient’s genetic information was available in about one day. The alternative medication was provided within a similar time.

“Sanford Health has long been a national leader in clinical genetics and predicting disease risk,” said Russ Wilke, M.D., chair of the Department of Internal Medicine at the University of South Dakota Sanford School of Medicine and local principal investigator for Sanford Health’s subcontract to the IGNITE network. “With Sanford Imagenetics, the first-of-its-kind program at Sanford that integrates genomic medicine to create innovative primary care for adults, Sanford will have an increased role in predicting drug response for patients.  As this study shows, the results of such testing can improve the care of our patients by reducing cardiovascular events.”

Learn more

Posted In Genetics, Health Information, Heart