An athlete his whole life, Joachim de Posada was surprised that his 23andMe results indicated a much higher than normal risk for heart disease.
Fit and seemingly healthy, Joachim thought the last thing he had to worry about was his heart, but he said it was that unexpected warning that may have saved his life.
“I’m a tennis player now and I play four to five days a week and never had any symptoms — I’ve never fainted or had chest pains or anything,” said Joachim, an international motivational speaker and best-selling author.
But a few days after getting his 23andMe results, he made an appointment with his family doctor for a check-up, just to be on the safe side.
A few days later, he was on the court working on his forehand when his instructor noticed Joachim was winded.
“’You know for a guy who is so fit you’re more out of breath than you should be,” his instructor said.
It was the kind of comment he might have brushed off, but it came so soon after he learned of this risk for heart disease and the appointment he had made with his doctor.
“Oh my gosh,” Joachim said to himself. “My 23andMe results say I have this risk and now my tennis instructor tells me this.”
Everything suddenly clicked, and instead of ignoring the warning signs, Joachim moved up his doctor’s appointment. He also brought his 23andMe results with him for the visit. One test led to another. An electrocardiogram showed that his heart was strong, but that he also had arrhythmia — an irregular heartbeat that could be indicative of more serious conditions. Then the doctor ordered an echocardiogram, followed by monitoring the heart for 24 hours.
“Something was wrong so he sent me to a cardiologist,” Joachim said.
The cardiologist did a stress test with imaging to look at blood flow into Joachim’s heart. After the test he went to the hospital cafeteria to have lunch, thinking he had passed the test. Suddenly, a nurse appeared and said:
“ ‘(The doctor) wants to see you, now.’”
“That’s when I said, ‘This doesn’t sound good.’”
The test showed that he had three arteries in his heart that were more than 80 percent blocked. Not totally comprehending how serious this was, Joachim told the doctor he wanted to postpone any procedure until after a planned speaking engagement in Atlanta.
The doctor quickly set him straight. This was serious.
“’No more tennis. No plane. No speaking engagement,’” the doctor told him. “You’re not going anywhere.’”
They operated right away. It was the first time in a 30 year speaking career that Joachim had to cancel a speaking engagement, but he couldn’t risk his life.
On March 15, 2013 Joachim had open-heart surgery and a triple by-pass. Seven weeks later he was playing tennis again. It was a doubles match. He and his partner won.
Results will vary due to unique differences in each individual’s DNA. On average users receive at least one or two results that may be relevant to proactively managing health. 23andMe’s service does not diagnose disease. 23andMe is not a substitute for professional medical or diagnostic advice.