Markers for heart disease - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Genetic marker for heart disease

You exercise, eat healthy, and take care of yourself. But what if that's not enough to prevent a heart attack?

Megan Johns is one young woman who survived a heart attack – and found the cause to be in her DNA.

Graduation is a memorable time for every college student, but especially so for Megan.

"I had pressure on my chest and it felt like a stack of books was on my chest resting and my left arm was tingling and it felt heavy," she recalls.

The day before her graduation ceremony, 21-year-old Megan had a heart attack.

"I was vegan, so I didn't eat any meat or dairy," she says. "I worked out regularly. School was important to me, so I just stayed healthy and it just didn't make any sense."

Megan's family didn't have any known risk factors for heart disease, so initially doctors said her heart attack was caused by birth control pills. After months of questions, dozens of tests, and few answers, Megan came to Cleveland Clinic, where doctors ordered a unique blood test.

And the result? A genetic link to heart disease called Lipo Protein A.

Cleveland Clinic Cardiologist Dr. Leslie Cho says, "It is a special type of cholesterol that actually increases the tendency to have heart attack and stroke by making the cholesterol sort of thick and more clot-forming."

"I was relieved to find out something to just be able to know and feel confident that I know what's wrong and I can now take care of myself," says Megan.

The entire Johns family was tested for Lipo Protein A and sure enough, Megan's mom carries the same bio marker.

It's something they never knew they carried but can now control.

"I have a predisposition to high cholesterol and even though I eat healthy, it always will be elevated unless I take medication to do something about it," says Kim Johns, Megan's mother.

Add Megan, "Know what your risk is and when something happens, listen to your body and know what it's telling you."

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