University of Iowa grad hopes to make a breakthrough in heart disease prevention

IOWA CITY, Iowa (KCRG) - University of Iowa researchers are coming up with a new way to prevent heart disease.

The CDC reports more than 610,000 people die every year from heart disease. It's the leading cause of death for both men and women. Coronary heart disease, which is the most common strain, accounts for the deaths of more than 370,000 people every year.

University of Iowa graduate Meesha Dogan is now the CEO of Cardio Diagnostics. She plans to use DNA to help people find out just how at risk they may be. Dogan said it's possible by looking at the genetic code.

"We quantify your risk for developing coronary heart disease in five years by aggregating your genetic risk factor as well as your environment and life risk factors," said Dogan.

The test will show results in just a few hours.

Dr. Michael Hajdu is a staff cardiologist at Mercy Iowa City and works with the Iowa Heart Center. He said getting a cardiology exam takes a bit longer because it could sometimes involve a series of follow-up appointments.

"If we recommend coronary angiography, where we put dye in your arteries and take movies of your heart that would be done within four or five days of getting a positive result," said Hadju.

Hadju said seeing a cardiologist is hard to beat.

"There's almost nothing you can't learn from a cardiology appointment as long as it's focused," said Hadju.

Dogan does point out that coronary heart disease is a complex one. She said the results don't dictate the outcome but people can use the risk factor to make changes to their day-to-day lives.

"My lifestyle: how I eat, do I exercise? Do I smoke? Do I have a substance use history? Those all play a part," said Dogan. "So in essence, I'm able to a certain extent control my outcome of having a heart attack by making better choices."

Dogan said she first came up with this idea as her final dissertation while still in school. Now, she is looking forward to taking science into the future.

Dogan said she expects the project to hit the market by the quarter-end of the year.