How do you take care of your heart after 40?
As you find yourself hitting 40, you may start thinking about health issues you previously didn’t concern yourself with. Should heart health be one of them?
Genetic testing analyzes your DNA for inherited genetic alterations. These alterations could increase your risk—or your children’s risk—of developing a disease, such as coronary artery disease, aortic aneurysms, cardiomyopathy, arrhythmias and others.
Also, for those patients with congenital heart defects or vascular disease, if you are considering starting a family, genetic testing might help you learn more about your chance to have a child with the same condition you have.
Genetic testing usually begins by meeting with a genetic counselor or medical geneticist physician. Genetic counselors and geneticists are health care professionals with expertise and specialized training in genetics. Your genetic counseling session will include:
Ohio State has multiple clinics that can evaluate you if you have a heart condition that you think may be genetic or if you have a family history of heart disease that concerns you. There are many reasons to be referred to one of these clinics. Some specific examples include:
There are multiple causes of congenital heart disease, also known as "heart defects":
Knowing your family health history can provide important information about your own health risks. Ohio State’s Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital and our Division of Human Genetics encourage you to talk to your family members about their health histories. You can create a heart health family tree that you and your doctor can use today—and the next generation of your family can use tomorrow. Also, we have created a free online assessment tool—Family Healthlink—that allows you to enter your family medical history. This online program helps determine your risk for cancer and coronary heart disease. The survey takes only 10-15 minutes to complete, and it provides a personalized risk assessment form that can be printed and given to your physician for discussion.
It is important to remember that:
It is important to bring as much medical history and family history information as possible to your genetic counseling appointment to assist the counselor in making the best possible assessment. If you are concerned about the risk to future children for congenital heart disease, specialized testing such as a fetal echocardiogram might be possible during your pregnancy.
Your genetic counselor will review your medical history and your family’s medical history. A physician will perform a physical on you, and blood will be drawn for genetic testing, when available and appropriate. Your genetic counselor will address any concerns you may have.
Your genetic counselor and physician will discuss the results of your genetic test with you. A screening, prevention and treatment plan will be determined and shared with your physicians if you would like. For female patients who would like to have children, this also includes a prenatal care plan for you and your baby when you become pregnant.