More than one third of U.S. adults have at least one type of cardiovascular disease. It is the number one cause of death in the U.S. Every 25 seconds, an American suffers a coronary event, and every minute, someone in the U.S. dies from one.
The burden of cardiovascular disease can also be measured in economic terms: in the United States the disease cost more than $500 billion in 2010 in medical care and lost productivity. Addressing the underuse of medicines that can prevent disease complications has the potential to save money. For example, one study found that if all patients who have hypertension were treated according to current guidelines over 400,000 hospitalizations a year could be prevented. By shifting to models of care that are predictive and preventive, personalized medicine can help address this problem and improve health care value. Likewise, addressing the problem of overuse of medicines presents an opportunity to improve value by ensuring patients do not receive ineffective or inappropriate medicines. Warfarin treatment selection and dosing guided by genetic information is an example of this emerging capability.
The potential of personalized medicine is to identify which individuals are at risk as well as those not at risk for developing cardiovascular disease and target appropriate testing and treatments accordingly. When it comes to treatment, health care providers need to know which tests are necessary to develop a treatment plan, which medications (singly or in combination) will prevent the development and progression of disease on an individual basis, what procedures can improve cardiovascular health and how to advise patients on managing their own health through diet and exercise.
The challenge of personalized medicine for cardiovascular disease is to identify the information that will redirect medical care based on individual needs. And that challenge is only made more difficult when physicians are not trained to use genomic and protein-based data to guide their decision-making.
On January 6, at a conference organized by the Personalized Medicine Coalition entitled “New Frontiers in Personalized Medicine: Cardiovascular Research and Clinical Care,” we will examine the new technologies that are facilitating the matching of treatment to patient to improve outcomes. We hope you will join the conversation in person in Washington, DC. For more information on the conference, or to register, visit www.personalizedmedicinecoalition.org/events/cardiovascular2011.