What should I ask my doctor before having a genetic test for heart disease?

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. Your cardiologist can help you determine if you are a good candidate.

Another developing areas 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.

The following questions can help you talk to your physician about a genetic test. Print out or write down these questions and take them with you to your appointment. Taking notes can help you remember your physician’s response when you get home.
  • What will a genetic test tell us about congenital heart disease, drug metabolism or some other condition?
  • How accurate is the test?
  • Are there any ethical considerations related to the test?
  • Can you refer me to a genetic counselor?

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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.