Are there genetic tests for heart disease?

While all aspects of the medical field are constantly evolving, this is particularly true of genetic testing. Currently, genetic tests are available and recommended for a limited number of medical conditions, though more tests become available each year.
Genetic testing is not recommended to try to assess risk for coronary artery disease, the acquired adult form of heart disease that leads to heart attack. However, if you are an adult who was born with a heart defect (congenital heart disease) and you are interested in having children, genetic testing can help assess the risk of your child inheriting that condition, if screening for that condition is available. Genetic tests are not available for all forms of congenital heart disease. Your cardiologist can help you determine if you are a good candidate.
Another developing area in genetic testing is that of identifying patients who may not respond well to certain medications, such as antiplatelet drugs. These patients are called poor metabolizers for that medication -- that is, their bodies do not process the medication as would be expected due to genetic variations in the enzyme responsible for processing the medication. Poor metabolizers for certain drugs can be identified through a genetic test. The commonly prescribed antiplatelet medication clopidogrel (Plavix) is one example of a medication for which genetic testing can identify poor metabolizers. The value of genetic testing in a routine fashion to identify poor metabolizers is still unknown.

Much more is being learned about how individual genetic profiles may affect the risk for heart disease and response to therapies.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.