Until recently, genetic testing to identify the triggers of various heart conditions was either beyond the existing technology or financially prohibitive. Now that illuminating genetic testing is both possible and practical, the Hadassah Medical Organization has opened a multi-disciplinary cardio-genetic consultation clinic, in collaboration with Hadassah’s genetics department.
Despite the fact that many cardiovascular diseases have been linked to specific genetic variations, sequencing all the genes that could be contributing to heart disease wasn’t feasible in the past. Recent advances in DNA sequencing, however, have now allowed for massive, parallel sequencing of multiple genes.
The group of diseases called cardiomyopathies is an example where genetic-based abnormalities have been identified. When there is a misprint in the genetic code for specific components of the heart muscle, the patient develops muscle dysfunction and possibly heart failure and cardiac arrhythmias. He can also experience sudden death. In many cases, coronary artery disease can also be attributed to one or more specific mutations. For example, highly elevated blood lipid levels may result from abnormalities in certain genes.
Hadassah’s new genetic clinic offers consultation and treatment for complex and unusual heart diseases and, when indicated, genetic testing with appropriate counseling. An integral part of treatment in the clinic is genetic consultation for family members, for whom early diagnosis and intervention would then become possible. In this way, the clinic can test relatives of people who die of sudden heart attacks and potentially prevent their sudden death from the same genetic cause.