UNDERSTAND THE LINK BETWEEN
Cardiovascular Health & Genetics
Heart diseases are common, and they can happen for several reasons. Most heart (cardiac) diseases are due to risk factors in health (like blood pressure, cholesterol or diabetes), age, biological sex, race, diet, lifestyle or certain medications. These heart diseases can include plaque buildup in the arteries (atherosclerosis), most heart attacks or strokes. But heart disease can also be inherited. Genetic heart disease is due to changes in genes, which we inherit from our parents and can pass to our children. Inherited cardiac conditions can run in families and happen to people of all ages.
Heart Conditions By The Numbers
1 in 250
a hereditary heart problem.
Heart problems are the
number one cause of death.
40 to 50%
of people in the U.S.
have some type of heart disease.
Does My Family Have an
Inherited Heart Condition?
Since genetic heart diseases run in families, there might be risk factors in your family history that offer clues. A certified genetic counselor from Genome Medical can help you learn if you or your family members have risk factors for a genetic heart disease. But even before you speak to a genetic counselor, you can explore things with your family members and bring what you learn to your appointment.
Benefits of a cardio genetic evaluation:
Genetic heart conditions can be serious, and it may be difficult to think about these risk factors in your family’s health history. Certified genetic counselors from Genome Medical can be a supportive partner as you explore the possibility of genetic heart disease in you or your family, including whether genetic testing could help.
Genetic testing may allow you to:
- Take proactive measures to help reduce the risks associated with inherited heart disease
- Help you and your health providers make more informed decisions about your health care
- Inform your family members who may also be at risk for genetic heart disease, so they too can take proactive measures for their own health
Genetic counseling always includes a discussion about the pros and cons of genetic testing. If you are being offered genetic testing, your genetic counselor will help you make a decision about genetic testing as part of the process. They will also discuss and interpret your test results.
Your genetic counselor will take your results and all your other medical information to develop a personalized care plan for you. All the information will be tailored to you and your situation, and may also be relevant to your family members.
Schedule Your Genetic
Genetic testing is right for people who have symptoms of a genetic heart disease or have a family history of a genetic heart condition. It might also be right for you if you don’t fit into these situations, but wish to be proactive about your health. Speaking to a genetic counselor can help you learn more about this.
Genetic Heart Diseases
There are a number of genetic heart diseases. They can run in families and impact children and adults. Some inherited cardiac conditions include:
Problems with the regular heart rhythm or heartbeat
Long QT syndrome
Inherited arrhythmia that causes the heart to take longer to recharge after each beat. This can increase the risk of fainting and sudden cardiac arrest.
Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia
Inherited arrhythmia that causes very fast heartbeats in response to physical activity or emotional stress.
Problems with the heart muscle
Thickening of parts of the heart muscle, causing it to be less flexible and not pump blood well to the body.
Thin and weakened parts of the heart muscle, causing it to be enlarged and not pump blood well to the body.
Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
Breakdown and scarring of the heart muscle over time, causing it to not pump blood well to the body.
CONGENITAL HEART DISEASE
Problems with the structure of the heart
When part (or parts) of the heart doesn’t develop as usual during pregnancy, like a hole in the heart, which can lead to problems with blood flow that are often seen before or at birth.
Problems with the vessels and arteries in the body
When the main blood vessel in the body (aorta) becomes weak and stretched, causing a bulge in a blood vessel wall (aneurysm), increasing the risk for a tear in the aorta (dissection). Aortopathies can affect only the aorta and other arteries and vessels, also called familial thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissection (FTAAD), or may occur with other health concerns, like Marfan syndrome.
Very high cholesterol levels
Very high blood cholesterol levels, typically only of the “bad” cholesterol (LDL), which can affect children or young adults and cause an increased risk for coronary heart disease.
SIGNS AND SYMPTOMS
Signs and symptoms of cardiovascular genetic disease can vary widely—including chest pain with exercise, palpitations, fainting, heart failure or sudden death, or there may be no signs at all. In many cases, a diagnosis can help someone get life-saving treatment. Speaking with a certified genetic counselor from Genome Medical can help you learn if you or your family members have risk factors for a genetic heart disease and if further genetic evaluation or genetic testing could be beneficial.
Trusted Genetic Specialists
Our clinical team is comprised of more than 50 clinicians, including medical geneticists, genetic counselors, primary care doctors and pharmacists who can provide medical services in all 50 states through our telehealth platform.
Chief Medical Officer
Director, Cardio and Pediatric Genetic Services
Director, Reproductive Genetic Services
Director, Cancer Genetic Services
Director, Genetic Counseling Services, GeneMatters