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Heart Groups to Propose Genetic Cardio Testing Guidelines

By a GenomeWeb staff reporter

NEW YORK (GenomeWeb News) – Two cardiovascular health groups are recommending that genetic counseling be made available for patients who take cardiovascular genetic tests, and that it might be beneficial if such tests were administered in centers with specific experience handling such tests and making decisions based on the results.

The Heart Rhythm Society (HRS) and the European Heart Rhythm Association (EHRA) said this week that they have developed guidelines aimed at health care professionals involved in providing genetic tests for inherited cardiovascular conditions, New York University said today.

While the full list of recommendations will be published in the August 2011 issue of HeartRhythm Journal and Europace, HRS/EHRA this week released three of their guidelines at the HRS's annual conference.

The goal behind the guidelines project was to evaluate the role of genetic testing and ensure that all physicians have access to the most up-to-date knowledge about screening for patients with cardiac conditions that may predispose them to sudden cardiac death or other genetic heart diseases.

"Genetic testing cannot be viewed as a one-size fits all solution, but should be considered for each disease state," Silvia Priori, who is a lead author of the upcoming paper and director of the Cardiovascular Genetics Program at NYU Langone Medical Center, said in a statement. "The recommendations outlined in this document can and should be used as guidance on how each potential disease is evaluated with respect to genetic testing, keeping in mind that each patient is different."

According to NYU, the statement will recommend genetic counseling for all patients and relatives with certain major inherited heart diseases, including discussion of risks, benefits, and options available for clinical testing and/or genetic testing.

The groups also recommend that treatment decisions should not rely solely on genetic test results but should be based on an individual's comprehensive clinical evaluation.

The guidelines also will recommend that it is useful for pre-genetic test counseling, genetic testing, and interpretation of genetic results, to be performed in centers with experience in genetic evaluation and family-based management of the 13 syndromes and conditions the HRS/EHRA cover.

Those inherited conditions will include: long QT syndrome; catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia; Brugada syndrome, progressive cardiac conduction disease; short QT syndrome; atrial fibrillation; hypertrophic cardiomyopathy; arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy/arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy; dilated cardiomyopathy; left ventricular noncompaction; and restrictive cardiomyopathy.

The statement also will include guidance on the use of genetic testing for out-of-hospital cardiac arrest survivors and post-mortem testing in sudden death cases.

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