SUWANEE, Ga. — When a patient complains about chest discomfort, primary care doctors face the difficult task of determining if a serious condition like coronary artery disease (CAD) is to blame, or a less serious condition like indigestion that can easily be treated with over the counter medications or a change in diet.
Studies have shown that only 10 percent of patients who visit their primary care doctor with chest pain have a cardiac cause for their symptoms. It’s a challenge that Dr. Lee Herman of John’s Creek Primary Care in Suwanee faces on a regular basis.
“As a doctor, you’re really stuck between a rock and a hard place,” said Dr. Herman. “If you don’t take the patient’s symptoms seriously, you could be missing a very dangerous heart condition. On the other hand, if you’re too aggressive, you might end up sending someone who has a simple case of heartburn to get a cardiovascular test that involves radiation exposure.”
Thanks to advances in the science of cardiovascular genomics, there is now a new option to safely and accurately help primary care doctors and cardiologists determine whether or not a patient’s symptoms are due to obstructive CAD.
It’s a convenient blood test called Corus CAD.
Dr. Herman and his team at Johns Creek Primary Care have been conducting research examining Corus CAD’s ability to help doctors make decisions about which patients need to be sent to a cardiologist for testing and which patients are at low risk for obstructive CAD.
In a study of more than 250 patients that was published in the April issue of the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine, Dr. Herman found that Corus CAD helped doctors change their clinical decisions for 58% of patients.
“A low Corus CAD score means that a patient is not likely to have obstructive CAD,” said Dr. Herman. “We were pleased to see that in our study, the patients with a low score did not receive additional cardiac tests. When you can prevent a patient from receiving an unnecessary referral to a cardiologist because their symptoms are not due to the heart, you may be able to help them avoid unnecessary radiation exposure from a very common heart test, called a nuclear stress test. Relative to a nuclear scan, Corus CAD is a lot safer, easier, less expensive and less invasive. It is also more accurate than nuclear stress testing in ruling out patients with a low likelihood of obstructive CAD.”
The radiation exposure from one nuclear stress test is equivalent to the radiation exposure from 39 mammograms.
“Nuclear stress testing is an important and valuable part of cardiology, but many doctors and patients may not know about new innovations like Corus CAD that can help prevent it from being overused and/or used in patients whose symptoms are not caused by the heart,” added Dr. Herman. “That is why we are working to raise awareness about the research we are doing here in Georgia to investigate the value of Corus CAD test in clinical practice.”
To learn more about Corus CAD, visit www.CardioDx.com.