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Our understanding of the genetic basis of many Mendelian forms of cardiovascular disease has advanced significantly in the last 5–10 years. There are now many professional society guidelines that recommend genetic testing for a variety of hereditary cardiovascular diseases including long QT syndrome, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC).1–3 The number of genes associated with cardiac conditions continues to increase, and the number of clinically available genetic tests for cardiac conditions has expanded rapidly in recent years (table 1).
Clinical genetic testing can be highly valuable in the management of families with hereditary disease. Determining which family members inherited the genetic predisposition to cardiac disease allows us to separate those in need of lifelong clinical evaluations from those who need no further evaluations beyond those recommended for the general population. This strategy is particularly valuable in inherited cardiovascular diseases where definitive clinical diagnosis of at-risk relatives is limited by incomplete penetrance, variable age of onset and, in some cases, insensitivity of clinical testing.4–7
Recent guidelines and expert opinions have gone beyond simply recommending genetic testing; they emphasise important points for the judicious use of genetic testing such as performing genetic testing on the most clearly affected person in the family, careful genetic counselling regarding the implications of positive, negative or uncertain results, and consideration of referral to a specialised centre due to the complexity of such genetic evaluations.1 8 9 To further elucidate principles and approaches critical to the …