Healthcare Utilization and Patients’ Perspectives After Receiving a Positive Genetic Test for Familial Hypercholesterolemia: A Pilot Study

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Abstract

Background:

The MyCode Community Health Initiative (MyCode) is returning actionable results from whole exome sequencing. Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is an inherited condition characterized by premature cardiovascular disease.

Methods:

We used multiple methods to assess care in 28 MyCode participants who received FH results. Chart reviews were conducted on 23 individuals in the sample and 7 individuals participated semistructured interviews.

Results:

Chart reviews for 23 individuals with a Geisinger primary care provider found that 4 individuals (17% of 23) were at LDL-C (low-density lipoprotein cholesterol) goal (of either LDL-C <100 mg/dL for primary prevention and LDL-C <70 mg/dL for secondary prevention) and 17 individuals (74% of 23) were prescribed lipid-lowering therapy before genetic result disclosure. After disclosure of the genetic test result, 5 individuals (22% of 23) met their LDL-C goal and 18 individuals (78% of 23) were prescribed lipid-lowering therapy. Follow-up care about this result was not documented for 4 individuals (17% of 23). Changes to intensity of medication management were made for 8 individuals (47% of 17 individuals previously prescribed lipid-lowering therapy). Interviewed individuals (n=7) were not surprised by their result as all knew they had high cholesterol; however, individuals did not seem to discern FH as a separate condition from their high cholesterol.

Conclusions:

Among individuals receiving genetic diagnosis of FH, >25% had no changes to lipid-lowering therapy, despite not being at LDL-C goal and learning their high cholesterol is related to a genetic condition requiring more aggressive treatment. Individuals and clinicians may have an inadequate understanding of FH as a distinct condition requiring enhanced medical management.

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