HealthBeat: Plavix Sensitivity Testing


The use of genetic testing is becoming popular in the medical world. It can help people qualify for clinical trials or benefit an unborn child. Testing can also help decide treatment.

Gerald Ordal is a retired farmer who now spends most of his time at craft shows with his wife, but with a long family history of heart problems, he makes sure he always schedules his annual check-ups. His latest check up just last month turned up some bad news.

“They called me and said they noticed something and wanted me to come in. Noticed I had blockage in ninety percent of two of them,” Ordal said.

With such much artery blockage doctors had to move quickly. They decided to do one more test.

A genetic test. 

“Genetic testing will potentially avoid having life threatening complications of being prescribed a medication that does not work for them,” Ordal said.

Sanford Cardiologist Tom Stys said Plavix is the number one medication used among doctors nationally to help thin a patients blood, giving a stent time to heal.

Unfortunately nearly 30 percent of people are immune to the medication. Turns out Ordeal is in that group.

 “The Plavix would not work. Each person’s got genes from your mother and genes from your dad and turns out my genes would not work,” Ordal said.

For patients and doctors having the ability to test whether patients will respond to a drug like Plavix can be the difference in saving their life.

“Currently at Sanford Heart Hospital we have a process where the test for genotype Plavix sensitivity is sent from the catheter the moment a decision is made to fix the blockage by sting the result is available within 24 hours,” said Stys.

With 11 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren Ordal is thankful for the test and now has many more years to watch his family grow. 

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