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Cardiovascular Genetics

The Washington University and Barnes-Jewish Heart & Vascular Center specializes in helping to evaluate and treat patients and family members with known or suspected inherited cardiovascular disease. Our Center for Cardiovascular Genetics utilizes leading genetic technology to provide the most comprehensive medical diagnoses and care. It is the only center of its kind in the St. Louis region.

What is Cardiovascular Genetics?

Cardiovascular genetics involves the study of family genetics to offer a comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and disease management solution for people who are at risk for or have inherited a cardiac disorder. Heritable factors underlie a number of cardiovascular diseases including diseases of the heart’s muscle, electrical system and vasculature. These inherited heart conditions, sometimes referred to as cardiovascular genetic disorders, may go undiagnosed for years before being recognized or causing symptoms. Our multidisciplinary heart team can evaluate a patient’s symptoms, physical examination, family history and genetic testing in order to provide a risk assessment to help establish a personalized diagnosis and proper preventative measures.

Our Heart & Vascular Center team is a national leader on the forefront of heart and vascular care and research. We combine research efforts from our partners at Washington University School of Medicine with human genetic studies to translate findings into expert clinical care for our patients.

Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic

Staffed by a multidisciplinary care team, we offer a comprehensive genetic evaluation, genetic education and counseling, and can guide patients interested in pursuing genetic testing on the best option for them. The clinic also offers genetic education and counseling to help patients fully comprehend their risk factors and possible outcomes, and what those outcomes mean for them down the road and for other family members. By understanding the possible outcomes, patients and their care team can take preventative measures to avoid complications from an inherited disorder.

What is a Cardiovascular Genetic Evaluation?

A patient at the Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic will receive a comprehensive evaluation for suspected or diagnosed disorders, including the following:

  • Inherited arrhythmias, including:
    • Long QT syndrome
    • Brugada syndrome
    • Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT)
    • Familial sudden death
  • Inherited cardiomyopathies, including:
  • Premature coronary artery disease and myocardial infarction
  • Inherited cholesterol disorders

DNA Testing

If appropriate, we can offer a precise DNA test, the CardioGene Set, that aids our team in identifying and understanding the specific factors that put patients at risk for certain cardiac diseases or disorders. The CardioGene Set is a test developed in collaboration with Washington University’s Genomics and Pathology Services (GPS) that analyzes multiple genes known to underlie cardiovascular conditions. The test uses rapid and sensitive gene-sequencing technology to check dozens of heart disease genes simultaneously to identify the likely genetic cause. At the Center for Cardiovascular Genetics, these complex results are evaluated by our cardiovascular geneticists to help patients and families formulate a comprehensive care plan. The test is able to report on as many as 80 genes.

Among many benefits to genetic testing is the ability to offer cascade testing in relatives who have potentially inherited the risk for disease. Through this testing, at-risk family members may be tested for the same inherited factor that contributes to the development of the disease in the family to see if they carry the genetic mutation and if they need to be monitored.

Ground-Breaking Research

Our physicians are leaders in the latest genetic research studies, helping to understand the genetic basis of cardiovascular disease and applying genetic insights to meaningfully impact patient care and therapeutic drug development. Our faculty has published breakthrough studies in leading medical and scientific journals.

In addition to comprehensive clinical care, we offer patients the opportunity to participate in IRB-approved genetic research studies aimed at discovering new genes related to cardiovascular disease in hopes that one day specific therapeutics might be available to treat these conditions.

To make an appointment with a Washington University heart or vascular specialist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital, call 855.925.0631.