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June 26, 2008
 
       
 

GW CARDIOLOGY
CHIEF KATZ LOVES
THAT GENOME!


 

It seems every time we turn around, a new benefit from unraveling the human genome emerges. Well, last week we turned around and saw GW cardiology chief Richard Katz. We're not sure why he was behind us, but, lo and behold, he told us the human genome has brought a new heart risk diagnostic to his department.

 

Richard says they recently started using genomic screenings to help diagnose heart disease. Just like high cholesterol or elevated blood pressure, the presence of a particular gene pattern indicates increased risk. Now, for about $200, an outside company called deCODE uses a mailed-in cheek swab to check for the gene pattern. Richard recommends it only to patients at medium-to-high risk because it can help him decide on the extent of preventive treatment. Patients already at very high risk will receive rigorous treatment regardless of whether they have the gene pattern.

 

But GW doesn't just test you and then show you the door. Now, Richard says, they've added the Cardiac Prevention Clinic to serve as one-stop-shopping for patients' nutrition and exercise needs. Richard's also chairman of the Cheney Cardiac Institute, created in 2006, which spends a million a year on education and GW-based research. It's recently expanded outreach into Anacostia including health screenings, home blood pressure units, and nurses to coach patients on how to improve their lifestyle.

 

Must've been a long day because it took Richard a while to find himself on this display. When he did—down and to the left—we see he's with longtime patient and friend CNN host Larry King. Richard serves on the board of Larry's Cardiac Foundation. It seems he surrounds himself with fine journalists since his daughter's an editor at WashingtonPost.com, his biking partner is NBC's Steve Handelsman, and he allows himself to be interviewed by the illustrious Bisnow newsletter. On the other hand, when he wants to treat himself like a celebrity, the NYU Med School grad, who has spent the past 11 years at GW, has a place on Martha's Vineyard for sailing. But he often prefers two wheels to a mast and last weekend biked 42 miles on the Mount Vernon Trail.


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