Mayo Clinic finding may double genetic screening effectiveness for sudden death heart condition

Currently that genetic test correctly detects HCM only 40 percent of the time. But coupled with imaging information, the detection power of the test nearly doubles, to 79 percent, says Steve Ommen, M.D., director of Mayo's HCM Clinic and co-lead investigator of the Mayo Clinic research team.

These results suggest the combined approach of an echocardiography-guided genetic test may be more helpful for families undergoing genetic counseling, and more cost-effective to perform, he says.

The Mayo Clinic team's report appears in the current edition of Mayo Clinic Proceedings (http://www.mayoclinicproceedings.com/). Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy is most often a hereditary condition in which the heart muscle thickens and enlarges, and the cells in the tissue become disorganized. As a result, the pumping function of the heart can be altered. HCM affects one in 500 people and is the most common identifiable cause of sudden death in young people, particularly athletes. Genetic screening for mutations that cause HCM gives parents advance knowledge they can use to prepare for treatment, ranging from medication to defibrillator implantation, to surgery and lifelong medical surveillance for worsening symptoms.

Significance of the Mayo Clinic Research
Boosting the sensitivity of the HCM detection rate with the image-gene screen combo can help physicians more accurately identify which families may benefit most from genetic testing for HCM, and then more accurately counsel those families. In such counseling, genetic information from uncles, aunts and grandparents, too -- not just the parents -- can yield insights into hereditary patterns.

Until now, physicians and genetic counselors have been hindered in their ability to give families an accurate picture of the risk of passing along the HCM trait.

"Our finding helps families two ways: short term and in the future," Dr. Ommen say

Contact: Traci Klein
Mayo Clinic

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