Evaluating the survivor or the relatives of those who do not survive: The role of genetic testing

David J. Tester, Michael J. Ackerman

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


The molecular millennium has bestowed clinicians and researchers with the essential tools to identify the underlying genetic substrates for thousands of genetic disorders, most of which are rare and follow Mendelian inheritance patterns. The genetic basis of potentially lethal and heritable cardiomyopathies and cardiac channelopathies has been identified and are now better understood. Genetic testing for several of these heritable conditions has made its transition from discovery through translation and have been commercially available clinical tests for over a decade. Now that clinical genetic testing is available more readily and delivers a disease-specific impact across the triad of medicine - diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic - it is important for the community of cardiologists to not only be familiar with the language of genomic medicine but to also be wiser users and even wiser interpreters of genetic testing so that wise decisions can be rendered for those patients and their families being evaluated with respect to the presence or absence of one of these potentially lethal yet highly treatable genetic disorders. The purpose of this review is to provide the reader with a foundational understanding of genetic testing in clinical cardiology. Here, we will present some benefits of genetic testing: indications for either post-mortem genetic testing for the major cardiomyopathies and channelopathies or pre-mortem genetic testing among the decedent's surviving relatives; the need for careful interpretation of genetic testing results; the importance of genetic counselling; and some points on the ethical and societal implications of genetic testing.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S19-S24
JournalCardiology in the young
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jan 1 2017


  • Genetics
  • arrhythmia
  • cardiomyopathy
  • genetic testing
  • long QT syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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