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They are people like Stan Hall, 78, of Townsend, a small town in northern Wisconsin. He wasn't in the experiment, but his artery disease was caught by the gene test, which was recommended by his doctor because he was suffering from unexplained fatigue. He didn't have traditional symptoms yet wound up having seven blockages fixed.
"I couldn't understand how they could do a genetic test that could tell you (that) you have a problem," but it ended up being worth it, he said.
The test is an important step toward using genes to improve care, but the results "do not provide compelling evidence" that it should be widely used now, genetics expert Donna Arnett of the University of Alabama at Birmingham wrote in an editorial in the journal.
Dr. Harlan Krumholz, a Yale University cardiologist and health outcomes researcher, agreed.
"We are in an era where new tests and procedures must prove their value before we adopt them because we are dazzled by the technology," so this test should remain a research tool until its worth is clearer, he said.
If improved, the test might lead fewer doctors to order angiograms as "defensive medicine," said Dr. Daniel Rader, director of preventive cardiology at the University of Pennsylvania and a spokesman for the American College of Cardiology.
Heart disease may be a long shot in a patient, "but they don't want to take the chance of missing it," he said.
Heart Association: http://www.heart.org/
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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