YOUR HEALTH: Using your DNA to diagnose your health

DANVILLE, Pennsylvania – Researchers are examining the smallest details of your health to help improve life's biggest problems.

Testing your DNA can uncover genes with the potential to become a real health risk.

Ividalis Gomez has rheumatoid arthritis and wants to find ways to ease not only her pain but to help her kids and grandkids.

"I always used to say that it`s a pain that if you get hit, you can rub the pain away, but this pain is inside and you can`t just rub it away. I think once we know the results from mom, they probably want to jump aboard," says Gomez.

A new study at Geisinger Health System in Pennsylvania is turning a traditional approach to medicine upside down, by looking inside, first.

"Historically, medicine has been primarily been wait till you get sick and then figure out if we can make you feel better," says Andy Faucett, Geisinger Health Systems' director of Policy and Education.

As part of the MyCode Community Health Initiative, Geisinger has obtained consent from more than 135,000 patients.  They've agreed to provide blood or saliva samples for genetic sequencing, giving researchers a much needed window into disease.

"A few years ago, I was in my office alone, nobody else around, then felt faint started to pass out when the defibrillator worked and now know how it works," says genome research patient Richard Davis.

This study will also help researchers determine how good gene changes can help us live healthier lives.

"I think it`s one of the few times we might actually get to prevent disease, catch people before they get sick and either slow the process down or keep it from happening," says Faucett.

The MyCode study, combined with electronic health records, will help doctors look at genetic health risks along with the use of age and medical records.

MORE ON GENETIC ANALYSIS: Genetic analysis is an overview of your DNA. It is a helpful procedure to undergo if you want to learn about your genes, and what you are predisposed to, since the procedure:

  • Reveals what is written in your genes,
  • Advises how you can take advantage of your genetic makeup
  • Allows you to get familiar with genetic predispositions you might possess like cardiovascular diseases, cancers, diabetes, and others
  • Reveals your response to specific medications
  • Gives insight to physical characteristics and abilities

(Source: https://www.geneplanet.com/personal-genetic-analysis.html/)

If this story has impacted your life or prompted you or someone you know to seek or change treatments, please let us know by contacting Jim Mertens at jim.mertens@wqad.com or Marjorie Bekaert Thomas at mthomas@ivanhoe.com.