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Genetic tests could save lives, money

Category: DNA, Paternity and Genetic testing

DNA testing of individuals who died from sudden cardiac arrest could spot genetic mutations and identify surviving family members at risk for potentially fatal heart arrhythmia, new research indicates.

A study by U.S. researchers explained that genetic deficiencies occur in almost 30 percent of victims of sudden cardiac death, the Palm Beach Post reports.

"If you identify a mutation in a sudden unexplained death victim, you can do a simple genetic test in first-degree relatives to assess their risk," said David Tester, the study's co-author.

He added, "If a relative is negative for the causative mutation, they may not need to undergo further clinical evaluation at all, and that saves money."

Involved in an increasingly cost-conscious healthcare industry, Tester and colleagues compared the costs of traditional recommendations for comprehensive cardiac testing with the new postmortem testing approach for a group of 146 sudden unexplained death cases.

According to the study, DNA testing of individuals who died from sudden cardiac arrest, followed by genetic confirmation testing of the relatives who tested positive for mutations, would save almost $1 million on comprehensive cardiac testing for all first degree relatives, which is currently advised.

According to the American Heart Association, about 90 percent of sudden cardiac arrests are caused by fatty buildup in two or more major coronary arteries.

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