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Congest Heart Fail. 2008 Jan-Feb;14(1):37-45.

Family history: an essential tool for cardiovascular genetic medicine.

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  • 1Division of Cardiology, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


We are pleased to provide a new section devoted to topics in cardiovascular genetic medicine. An emerging field, cardiovascular genetic medicine is devoted to the identification and understanding of cardiac conditions resulting from genetic mechanisms and to the development and validation of treatment algorithms and guidelines. Cardiovascular genetic medicine is rapidly enlarging, and we anticipate a broad range of comprehensive reviews. We will first focus on the most tractable diagnoses to apply the principles of cardiovascular genetic medicine: the cardiomyopathies such as dilated, hypertrophic, arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia/cardiomyopathy and the channelopathies such as long QT syndrome and related disorders. These conditions follow classical or Mendelian genetics, otherwise known as the single gene disorders. As greater numbers of disease genes and their specific mutations are identified, and as large clinical cohorts of affected probands and their at-risk family members become available for study, clinical recommendations, and then guidelines, will follow. Progress is also evident for those conditions considered to be complex or multigenic diseases, such as coronary disease and hypertension, which affect large segments of the population. Risk alleles are now being identified that may rapidly lead to genetic testing to assess risk for these conditions. Cardiovascular genetic medicine must also be responsive to public concerns regarding confidentiality, and it must also demonstrate clinical integrity and utility for genetic testing. Our first topic features the role of family history in cardiovascular genetic medicine. Assisted by my clinical and research group -- genetic counselors and nursing personnel devoted to the field -- we have provided a glossary with explanations of genetic terminology, as illustrated in this first article, and will continue to do so for the series. We will prepare additional topics and others will be solicited from experts in the field. I also invite any potential contributors to propose and submit topics that are both of interest to you and relevant to the field. Please also give us your feedback, especially to improve the clarity, diversity, and timeliness of the genetic concepts presented. So, away we go.

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