Ron’s Story

Ron was prescribed several cardiovascular medications after suffering a heart attack. He wondered why he suddenly developed shoulder pain and suffered a second heart attack. Pillcheck™ provided the insights he and his doctors needed.

After a tough day at work, Ron suddenly suffered a heart attack.  A major artery in his heart was blocked, and surgeons inserted a stent to open it.  His doctors gave him prescriptions for four different medications: Aspirin and Clopidogrel (PLAVIX™) to reduce blood clotting; Simvastatin, a cholesterol lowering drug; and Captopril, an antihypertensive drug. This combination of drugs is designed to reduce the risk of a second heart attack or stroke.

However, despite being on this drug therapy for several months, Ron experienced a second heart attack.  Also, he was experiencing severe muscle aches and pain in his right shoulder for the past few months, and the muscle stiffness seemed to be getting worse.  Ron’s wife had read that variations in a person’s DNA determine whether or not a drug will be effective or cause adverse side effects, and suggested that he get the Pillcheck™ test to better understand how he is metabolizing his medications.

How Pillcheck Helped

The test results revealed that Ron is a poor metabolizer of Clopidogrel because he carries a certain genetic variation in his CYP2C19 liver enzyme. Ron and his wife learned that 16-30% of Clopidogrel users are unaware that they cannot metabolize the drug and remain at high risk for stroke and heart attack.

It turns out that Ron’s shoulder muscle pain was caused by an adverse side effect of Simvastatin, known as statin-induced myopathy, which, in rare cases, can result in kidney damage. Ron carries a mutation in the SLCO1B1 gene that predisposes him to statin-induced myopathy.

Acting on this information, Ron’s doctor stopped Clopidogrel and switched his medication to an alternative drug that is not processed by the CYP2C19 enzyme.  The doctor also substantially reduced his statin dose, prescribed CoQ10 and recommended physiotherapy for his shoulder.  Ron is now responding well to his treatment and has resumed his active lifestyle.

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