Understanding the Genetics of Heart Disease
Understanding the factors that come into play for heart disease is complicated. We now understand that diet, lifestyle and family history are related to your cardiovascular health throughout your life. But how do we understand the genetics of heart disease? Exactly how does genetic predisposition affect your test results at the doctor’s office? Find out more about the genetics of heart disease and the latest cardiovascular technology.
Strives in Discovery
In April of 2018, researchers claimed to have identified the genes that cause a deadly heart condition called Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension (PAH). Tragically, 50 percent of those diagnosed with this rare condition do not survive longer than five years following. But the new discovery of these genes could lead to earlier detection and new treatments. Researchers found five genes responsible for this illness, four of them unknown previously to be involved. According to researchers, identifying the genes and mutations that cause heart diseases is a vital key to identifying the cause of the disease.
In terms of more common cardiovascular issues like heart attack, studies suggest that your DNA is also an important contributor. For example, The Tech Museum of Innovation found that changes on chromosone 9 are associated with a 40 percent increased risk of heart attack. Discoveries like this are a valuable asset in pinpointing heart disease early. The earlier risk can be determined, the better. So, how do you break the code stored in your DNA. Genetic testing is the answer.
Your Family Tree
Today, genetic testing is even available to help get an idea of where your risks lie. While these methods are still in early stages, they can be used to determine “pathogenic mutations,” or disease causing changes in your DNA. Today, genetic testing is used to:
- Confirm a diagnosis of suspected inherited heart disease
- Determine the cause of heart disease in a family member
- Predict the risk for a certain family member
- Provide family planning options and avoid passing on unwanted mutations
Usually, genetic testing begins with one family member but is performed on a larger sample of other family members as well. Counseling is also used in conjunction with the laboratory process to ensure that all patients understand the results and their risk.
It’s true: Genetics really matter when it comes to your risk of cardiovascular disease. But don’t forget that diet and lifestyle are crucial, no matter what risk level the genetic testing reflects. Staying away from smoking, maintaining healthy blood pressure and cholesterol through diet, and reducing your stress are key to preventing heart disease. To learn more about where you stand, visit www.cvgcares.com to make an appointment with an experienced specialist.