We are one of the few centers in the region with a special group of geneticists and cardiologists who evaluate for genetic heart conditions.
If there is a personal or family history of cardiac disease, cardiogenetic testing can help identify abnormalities and allow patients to take steps to prevent cardiac emergencies.
We strongly recommend that families seek evaluation for hereditary heart conditions if there is a history of:
- Non-atherosclerotic heart conditions, heart conditions that are not related to atherosclerosis, a hardening of the arteries that tends to be acquired, not inherited
- Aortic disease
- Congenital heart disease, a heart disease you are born with
It is important for families to understand that just because a family member has a condition, it does not mean all other family members will also have it. Having a genetic testing consultation can help families understand if loved ones are at risk for cardiac emergencies that could have devastating consequences.
Genetic Heart DiseaseToggle accordion item
As the science of cardiogenetics improves and sharpens, specialists can track certain conditions that run in families. Geneticists and genetic counselors work together with cardiologists to determine whether a heart condition might be genetic, the underlying genetic cause, and which family members are also at risk. Learn more about the comprehensive services we provide for congenital heart patients in our Adult Congenital Heart Program.
Possible inherited heart conditions include:
- Non-ischemic cardiomyopathy
- Bicuspid aortic valve disease, the most common genetic aortic condition. Roughly five percent of the population has bicuspid aortic valve disease, and it gets passed down through generations. Learn more about valve disease.
- Connective tissue disorders, such as Marfan syndrome or Ehlers-Danlos or Loeys-Dietz syndrome
- Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
Fetal Heart Care: Cardiogenetic Testing for Unborn BabiesToggle accordion item
Family members are never too young or too old to discuss cardiogenetic testing for non-atherosclerotic conditions. We can even perform some tests on babies in utero to help create a birth plan, ensuring a safe delivery and proper medical care at birth.
The University of Maryland Children’s Heart Program specializes in caring for newborns and children with congenital heart defects. Learn more about our Children’s Heart Program.
What to Expect During TestingToggle accordion item
Here’s what you can expect before, during and after your appointment at our cardiogenetics clinic:
- Appointment with a cardiologist: Before your appointment with our clinic, you may want to meet with a cardiologist to discuss whether genetic testing is right for you and your family members.
- Consultation with a genetic counselor or geneticist: Cardiologists, geneticists, and genetic counselors work side by side for a personalized evaluation for possible genetic causes or contributions to cardiac diseases
- Imaging test: We may request that you get a computed tomography (CT) scan or echocardiogram if we need additional information.
- Genetic testing: We will discuss with you and your family members the pros and cons of genetic testing. If you decide to get tested and we detect a genetic cause for your heart condition, we will discuss follow-up care and treatment options.
Test ResultsToggle accordion item
We will discuss your results with you and help you work with your cardiologist to develop a plan of action based on your genetic test results.
Results can vary depending on the type of genetic test that is ordered. Some people may find an explanation for their heart condition or better understand their personal risks for genetic heart conditions. Sometimes genetic testing can yield uncertain genetic information. Scientific advances continue to make genetic testing better over time.
If genetic testing or screening is indicated for family members, we can help you talk to your family members about how to access these services.
Genetic Heart Conditions: Next StepsToggle accordion item
If you or a family member does have a genetic heart condition a heart condition, regular screening appointments help to actively manage the disease, follow its progression and perhaps even begin taking medications to reduce the risk of an emergency. Our cardiogenetics team provides care that is:
- Comprehensive: Our heart team has extensive experience caring for patients with a wide range of heart conditions, including genetic heart conditions. We have the capabilities and resources to tailor a treatment plan that meets your individual needs. We work closely with patients and family members to ensure you are receiving the most effective care possible.
- Advanced: We treat patients that have even the most complicated conditions, including patients who have been turned down elsewhere for treatment.
- Minimally invasive: We are committed to providing you with the least invasive procedure possible, leading to a shorter, more comfortable recovery.