FRIDAY, May 24, 2019 (HealthDay News) — The importance of establishing specialized clinical cardiovascular genetics programs is addressed in an American Heart Association scientific statement published online May 23 in Circulation: Genomic and Precision Medicine.

Ferhaan Ahmad, M.D., Ph.D., from the University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine in Iowa City, and colleagues note that advances have been made in understanding of the genetic basis of multiple cardiac conditions and in clinical diagnostic methods and therapies and that emerging challenges include interpretation of genetic test results as well as counseling and management. They therefore address the need for specialized clinical cardiovascular genetics programs.

The researchers note that the integration of clinical cardiovascular findings with genetic information facilitates improved diagnosis, prognostication, and cascade family testing to identify and manage risk. In some cases, the integration can provide information on genotype-specific therapy. A dedicated cardiovascular subspecialty team is necessary and includes electrophysiology, interventional cardiology, and cardiothoracic and vascular surgery as well as support from sleep medicine, behavioral health, maternal fetal medicine, nutrition counseling, social work, and exercise physiology. A new cardiovascular subspecialist, the genetic cardiologist, may be required to interpret genetic variation within the context of phenotype and to extend the utility of genetic testing.

“It’s important that we have the right people, including medical geneticists and genetic counselors, as well as adequate facilities, equipment and other resources in place to provide clear and accurate guidance to these families throughout testing and decision-making processes,” Ahmad said in a statement.

Two authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.

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