7 Heart Tests That Could Save Your Life

Heart Disease

Think a stress test and a simple blood workup are all you need to assess your heart attack risk? Wrong.

Genetic Tests

How They Work: A blood sample is tested at a lab for mutations of the KIF6 and APOE genes.

Cost: $130 each

Duration: 5 minutes

Why They’re Heart Smart: A common variation in the KIF6 gene and two mutations in the APOE gene raise your heart disease risk. “You have no control over your genes,” says Dr. Agatston, “but these tests can help your doctor better tailor your treatment to head off a heart attack.”

Get Them If: You’re 40 or older.

What the Results Mean: “The KIF6 gene test predicts how effective statins are likely to be at heading off a future heart attack,” says Dr. Agatston. A recent study found that people with a certain variant of KIF6 had a better response to statin treatment, with a 41% drop in heart attack risk, while people without this mutation didn’t respond as well, with a 6% drop. “So we’ll use a different treatment in these cases,” he says– typically, a fenofibrate or niacin. As for the APOE gene, certain people with those variants have a much greater response to a low-saturated-fat diet. “So they may not need medication if they’re diligent about avoiding saturated fat,” Dr. Agatston says.

Next Steps: A drug to lower cholesterol, changes in diet, or both.