Why test heart health genes?
No doubt you are familiar with stories about people who smoke heavily, eat unhealthy food, are not averse to alcohol and yet live beyond 90 years. When we say ‘good genetics’, we say - and thereby subconsciously assume that our DNA also influences our heart health.
One thing is for sure: cardiovascular diseases and their consequences, such as strokes and heart attacks, can affect anyone. You should not rely on good genetics. The individual risk of developing certain problems with heart and blood vessels varies from one person to the next.
If you understand the genetic factors that are linked to cardiovascular health, you can incorporate specific measures in your daily life. This can involve the intake of fats, vitamins and minerals, as well as physical exercise, reducing stress or paying attention to alcohol and nicotine consumption. A DNA analysis such as the cerascreen® DNA Heart Health Test gives you insights into your genetics, so that you can adjust your lifestyle in a targeted manner.
Please note: If the DNA analysis shows you have an increased risk of developing a disease, it does not automatically mean that you will! These genetic predispositions are probabilities and indicate the possibility of problems emerging. Moreover, the recommendations on how to ensure cardiovascular health are also useful for people who do not show these predispositions.
Who should take the DNA Heart Health Test?
The test is an excellent choice for all people who want to improve their heart health and who are interested in which actions and recommendations are best suited to them.
In addition, there are at-risk groups for certain types of cardiovascular disease. Older men in particular, but also menopausal women and people with pre-existing conditions, such as diabetes and severe obesity, for example, have an increased risk of elevated cholesterol levels and high blood pressure. You are also at a greater risk if you smoke.
How does the DNA Heart Health Test work?
For the DNA Heart Health Test, take a small saliva samples from the oral mucosa with the cotton swab that is included in the DNA Heart Health Test kit. After using the swab, insert the saliva samples into the enclosed sample tube. Send the saliva samples to our medical partner laboratory by using the free return envelope. The lab will then carry out the DNA analysis.
The specialised medical laboratory carries out a comprehensive DNA analysis. How long the analysis will take depends on the quality of the sample provided – sometimes, the medical laboratory has to repeat the analysis multiple times. Therefore, it can take up to four weeks until you receive your individual test results.
What do I have to consider when I take the test?
The higher the quality of the sample, the faster and more easily the laboratory is able to analyse it. You can contribute to this by adhering to the following guidelines for taking a saliva sample:
- Do not eat or drink anything for at least half an hour before collecting the saliva sample.
- Do not brush your teeth or use mouthwash for at least half an hour before collecting the saliva sample.
- Do not smoke in the 30 minutes before taking the tests.
- The sample must be stored in a dry place for 24 hours before it is sent. During this time, the sample dries via the aeration membrane at the bottom of the sample tube.
What will the results report tell me?
Based on 13 analysed genes, your results report provides you with information about six genetic tendencies when it comes to your heart health. For each, you will receive a possible interpretation of whether your genetic variants indicate a normal or greater tendency to developing cardiovascular health problems.
The following aspects of heart health are investigated:
- Sensitivity to saturated fatty acids
- Risk of increased cholesterol levels
- Tendency to develop oxidative stress
- Risk of increased homocysteine levels
- Tendency to develop inflammation of the heart and blood vessels
- Risk of high blood pressure
What kind of recommendations will I receive?
You will receive recommendations for each of the six cardiovascular health aspects assessed – find out more about these in the questions below.
We also give you general tips on ensuring heart health that you can use in everyday life. This mainly involves advice on body weight, diet, exercise and relaxation.
What does sensitivity to saturated fatty acids mean?
Fats consist of various fatty acids. The saturated fatty acids are considered rather unhealthy, as they are considered to stimulate inflammation and increase the likelihood of arterial calcification.
The following foods are rich in saturated fatty acids:
- Animal fats such as sausage, butter and fatty cheese (e.g. Camembert, buttery cheese)
- Margarine, coconut oil and palm oil
- Chocolate and sweets
- Convenience food
Certain gene characteristics provide clues as to whether your body draws an above-average amount of saturated fatty acids from food. You would call this increased sensitivity (susceptibility).
Saturated fatty acids should not make up too large a proportion of any person’s diet. However, if you have an increased susceptibility, it can be worthwhile paying particular attention to a healthy fatty acid balance – for example, through a targeted intake of the anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
What does a risk of elevated cholesterol mean?
Certain genetic variants can supposedly influence how high your risk is of developing unhealthy cholesterol levels – meaning you have too much of the LDL cholesterol in your blood.
You can counteract elevated LDL cholesterol levels primarily through your diet. Some foods, such as fried foods, sweets, highly processed products, alcohol and white flour products increase LDL cholesterol.
You can reduce how frequently you eat these foods and instead go for those that positively affect your cholesterol, such as olive oil, dark chocolate, eggs, salmon, turmeric and green tea.
What does a tendency to oxidative stress mean?
Oxidative stress is the result of a large number of so-called free radicals in your body. Free radicals are oxygen molecules that can cause inflammation in cells and are, among other things, believed to promote cardiovascular diseases, cancer and skin ageing.
A genetic predisposition can possibly ensure that some people are more likely to develop free radicals and therefore oxidative stress. In this case, it is especially worth reducing oxidative stress.
One of the things that can help are the opponents of free radicals, the antioxidants. They protect the cells from the harmful effects of oxidative stress. Antioxidants can be supplied in a targeted way through nutrition; antioxidant nutrients include vitamins C, E and B2, zinc, selenium and iodine, as well as secondary plant compounds.
What does the risk of elevated homocysteine levels mean?
The amino acid homocysteine is produced during breakdown processes in your body. A lack of folic acid or vitamin B12, among other things, can disrupt these processes and lead to increased homocysteine levels. This, in turn, can increase the risk of developing circulatory disorders and atherosclerosis.
If you are genetically predisposed to this, it can be particularly helpful to help the body break down the amino acid. This is mainly achieved by ensuring a sufficient supply of vitamin B12 and folic acid.
What does inflammation of the heart and blood vessels mean?
If your blood vessels are inflamed, this could be a consequence of atherosclerosis (also called arteriosclerosis or vascular calcification). This leads to a build-up of fat on the side walls of the blood vessels, which disturbs the blood flow and, in the worst case, can lead to a heart attack or stroke.
If you have an increased risk of experiencing inflamed blood vessels, it is important to pay more attention to the risk factors of atherosclerosis. These include, for example, cholesterol levels and consequently diet, lack of exercise and smoking. If you suffer from pre-existing conditions such as high blood pressure, diabetes or obesity, you should discuss our recommendations with your GP.
What does the risk of high blood pressure mean?
The different characteristics of the genes studied also allow a prognosis to be made for the risk of high blood pressure. Pressure in the blood vessels is necessary to transport the blood and thus nutrients and oxygen through the body. If it is permanently elevated, this can make atherosclerosis, strokes and heart attacks, among other things, more likely.
To counteract the risk, you can ensure you receive a sufficient supply of nutrients such as omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, magnesium and fibre through your diet or nutritional supplements.
It is also recommended to keep the intake of saturated fatty acids and salt at a moderate level.
For whom is the test not suitable?
The DNA Heart Health Test is not suitable for or is only suitable for certain groups of people:
People with contagious diseases, like hepatitis, are not allowed to take the DNA Metabolism Test.
Pregnant and breastfeeding women should only carry out the DNA Metabolism Test under medical supervision. The reference values and recommendations do not apply to them, so they should obtain recommendations on the test result from their doctor.
The DNA Metabolism Test is not suitable for children under the age of 18.
The test is not intended for diagnosing diseases. For example, if you experience unexplainable weight loss or obesity, you should consult a doctor.