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What are the benefits of genetic testing concerning heart diseases?

Atherosclerosis, which is the plaque buildup in the heart, is caused by genetic factors as well as by environmental influences. The interactions of the genetic factors with the environmental influences such as our diet, our exercise habits, smoking, etc. will determine whether or not we develop heart disease. A number of studies have shown that approximately half of the risk of developing heart disease is attributed to genetic factors and approximately half of the risk is attributed to environmental factors. Therefore, when we can actually evaluate genetic variants and explain up to half of the risk of developing heart disease. However, even with all the known genetic variants that we can test for today, we can only explain about seven to 10% of the genetic predisposition and therefore, the genetic information is only one piece of the puzzle for risk stratification.
Potential benefits of genetic testing include additional incremental information for risk stratification and in some other cases certain genetic variants can predict whether or not a patient may respond to a certain medication better or worse than the population average.
The benefits of genetic testing concerning heart diseases are still considered to be research primarily. However, there are certain genetic tests such as tests for sensitivity to Coumadin, beta blocker testing, ACE inhibitor testing, the "plavix gene" 2c19, and statin therapy sensitivity where this testing can be used to predict the response of a patient to certain therapies. There is other genetic testing that can be used to predict the risk of sudden death in patients with congenital or inherited malformations in the heart muscle or electronic tissue. The majority of genetic testing is still in evolution. As we continue to study all of the genes that make up the body, doctors are concerned with not only what disease processes the genes are associated with, but also what is the best way to treat patients who have these genetic defects. Stay tuned.

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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.