Genetic Analysis in Cardiovascular Disease: A Clinical Perspective

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Many forms of cardiovascular disease (CVD) demonstrate heritability and thus a genetic contribution is likely. This is most evident when considering the “simple” Mendelian traits such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. However, family history also influences our assessment of patients with complex traits such as coronary artery disease, hypertension, and common forms of hypercholesterolemia, as observed in clinical practice. Recent research has led to advances in our understanding of the genetic basis of both the simple and complex forms of CVD. This review presents the current state of knowledge regarding major gene disorders, as well as more common, complex forms of CVD such as coronary artery disease. It discusses the fundamental approaches being used to identify the genetic basis of the various disease states, as well as the practical implications of the discoveries to clinicians. It also focuses on our need to assess the extent by which genetic analysis can alter our calculation of an individual's risk of disease, and our ability to successfully target treatment that will modify this process.

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