Genetic counseling needed before, after testing for inherited heart disease, American Heart Association says

Genetic counseling is essential both before and after genetic testing for inherited cardiovascular diseases, the American Heart Association says.

The association published its statement in the journal Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine, summarizing research on genes or the combination of genes that may influence inherited heart diseases as well as what is unknown about inherited cardiovascular diseases. The statement also notes best practices for genetic testing.

There are several cardiovascular conditions that may have an inherited genetic component, including cardiomyopathies, thoracic aortic aneurysms and dissections, and arrhythmic disorders that predispose people to potentially fatal abnormal heart rhythms.

The association suggests that healthcare providers conduct genetic counseling before testing for inherited cardiovascular diseases, working with patients to document their family medical history. Typically, genetic testing should be conducted on certain patients with a confirmed or suspected diagnosis of an inherited cardiovascular disease or for individuals at high risk due to a previously identified disease-causing gene abnormality in their family.

Genetic counseling is also important after genetic testing, as the counselor can explain the results and potential consequences for the patient and family members, including children.

Read the full statement here.

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