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David Duncan Has a Prescription for American Health Care
Date:9/14/2009

BOSTON, Sept. 14 /PRNewswire/ -- The 13th Annual Scientific Meeting of the Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) today featured a discussion by David Ewing Duncan titled "One Man's Quest for Personalized Medicine." Over the course of one year, Duncan submitted himself to hundreds of tests that could predict and even prevent future illness.

One test made predictions about the health of Duncan's heart. By gathering data on his cholesterol levels, a heart CT scan, a genetic profile, and more, the test showed personalized predictions that were specific to Duncan's genes and physiology. One scenario showed Duncan's risk of heart attack at 70% over the next twenty years. That forecast changed dramatically if Duncan maintains his current weight instead of gaining the typical pound per year for a man over 40. With a steady weight, the risk fell to about 2 percent and with cholesterol lowering statins, Duncan's risk fell to zero.

"Many of these tests aren't ready for the general public, but they do give us an interesting glimpse into the future of medicine," said Duncan. "People are curious as to where this technology is going and we may never know unless we provide the organized push needed to learn more."

This specific test would cost nearly $1000 as demand increases but Duncan points out that a diagnostic cardiac catheterization can cost more than $25,000 and a heart bypass operation runs well over $85,000. The cost also has to be weighed against the 80 million Americans suffering from heart disease and the fact that nearly $450 billion was spent last year in direct and indirect costs for treatment of heart disease.

"David Duncan's journey through the American Health care system as a healthy person illustrates one of the major problems facing the American health care system today. That is, as health care professionals we recognize that it is imperative to identify patients who are at risk for developing heart disease, and then implement personalized strategies to reduce this risk," said Dr. Douglas Mann, HFSA President. "However, the upfront costs associated with screening large populations of patients with some of the emerging technologies may not be sustainable in the future. As we move forward in our efforts to prevent heart disease and heart failure, it will be essential to obtain outcomes data that identify the most cost effective and accurate strategies for identifying the patients who are at risk of developing heart disease and heart failure, as well as personalizing our approaches to these patients."

For a complete list of annual meeting sessions or for details on attending the conference, call (617) 226-7183 or visit www.hfsa.org and click on Annual Scientific Meeting. There is no registration fee for accredited journalists. Interview areas will be available on-site in addition to a fully-staffed press room with phone and internet accessibility. You can also follow the annual scientific meeting on Twitter #hfsa

About Heart Failure

Heart failure is a progressive condition in which the heart muscle becomes weakened after it is injured, most commonly from heart attack or high blood pressure, and gradually loses its ability to pump enough blood to supply the body's needs. Many people are not aware they have heart failure because the symptoms are often mistaken for signs of getting older. Heart failure affects from 4.6 to 4.8 million individuals in the United States. Demographic and clinical evidence strongly suggests that the prevalence of heart failure will increase throughout the next decade. Ten to 15 years ago heart failure was considered a "death sentence;" however, recent advances in treatment have shown that early diagnosis and proper care in early stages of the condition are key to slowing, stopping or in some cases reversing progression, improving quality of life, and extending life expectancy. For more information on heart failure, please visit www.abouthf.org.

About the Heart Failure Society of America

The Heart Failure Society of America (HFSA) is a nonprofit educational organization, founded in 1994 as the first organized association of heart failure experts. Today HFSA has over 1,500 members and provides a forum for all those interested in heart function, heart failure research and patient care. The Society also serves as a resource for governmental agencies (FDA, NIH, NHLBI, CMS). The HFSA Annual Scientific Meeting is designed to highlight recent advances in the development of strategies to address the complex epidemiological, clinical and therapeutic issues of heart failure. Additional information on HFSA can be found at www.hfsa.org.

About David Ewing Duncan

David Ewing Duncan is an award-winning, best-selling author of seven books and numerous essays, articles and short stories; and a television, radio and film producer and correspondent. He is a Contributing Editor and Columnist for Conde Nast Portfolio, a Chief Correspondent for NPR Talk's "Biotech Nation," and a commentator for NPR's "Morning Edition". At UC Berkeley he is the Director of the Center for Life Science Policy and a Visiting Researcher at the Graduate School of Journalism. David's newest book, Experimental Man: What one man's body reveals about his future, your health, and our toxic world, is available now. More information can be found at www.experimentalman.com


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SOURCE The Heart Failure Society of America
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