If you’re one of the 226 million Americans who take prescription drugs to treat heart disease or other conditions, a new genetic test called MyPGt can help your healthcare provider personalize your care, so you get the safest and most effective medications at the right dose. Soon to be available at the Heart Attack & Stroke Prevention Center, the test checks for gene variants that affect your response to hundreds of commonly prescribed medications.

Not only can your results help you avoid drugs that don’t work, or are likely to cause side effects, but the one-time saliva test can also offer guidance on medications that may be prescribed in the future, thus enabling your provider to fine-tune your medical care throughout your life, based on your unique DNA. Here’s a closer look at MyPGt and why the BaleDoneen Method recommends it as part of our precision-medicine approach to heart attack and stroke prevention.

What is precision medicine?

Instead of using a “one-size-fits-all” approach to healthcare, precision medicine, also known as “personalized medicine,” is a leading-edge approach, long used by the dynamic BaleDoneen Method, that bases treatment and disease prevention on each person’s unique genes, lifestyle and environment. Pharmacogenetics (PGt) is the study of how a person’s genes affect his or her response to medications.

BaleDoneen takeaway: What works for one patient may not work for another, so all treatments must be personalized for each unique individual, instead of basing decisions about which medication to prescribe on the average results from a large clinical trial.

How does the MyPGt test work?

Your healthcare provider collects a sample of your DNA, using a simple oral-rinse method, and sends it to the MyGenetx laboratory for analysis. You will also be asked for a list of your current medications, so a personalized report can be sent to your provider. The test covers many genes that determine how your body processes a wide range of common medications, including those often prescribed for heart disease, high blood pressure, chronic pain, depression and other disorders.

BaleDoneen takeaway: What’s exciting about this one-time test is that the results are available forever, since your genes don’t change. As new medications are considered for heart attack and stroke prevention, all can be filtered through this matrix before prescribing to make sure there are no adverse effects or drug interactions for that patient.

What could I learn from this test to improve my healthcare?

Here’s an example of how MyPGt testing could be helpful, says Dave Vigerust, PhD, chief science officer of MyGenetx Clinical Laboratory. “Let’s say you need a statin to lower your cholesterol. The traditional approach is to prescribe a low dose and gradually adjust it up or down, trying to find the sweet spot. However, you might have a gene variant that makes that statin ineffective for you or increases the risk for side effects, such as severe muscle pain. Without this test, it could take weeks or even months of trial-and-error, and many medical visits, to find the right statin and the most appropriate dose.”

In addition, adds Vigerust, some patients have genes that cause them to metabolize certain drugs faster than average, so they need a higher dose, while others process those drugs more slowly and need a lower dose to avoid adverse reactions.

BaleDoneen takeaway: Results from the test take the guesswork out choosing the right prescription drugs and dosages for each individual, which could lead to faster and safer medical care to protect and enhance your arterial health.