Cardiovascular Genetic Diseases

In recent years, researchers at Brigham and Women’s Hospital (BWH) have made great advances in understanding the genetic basis for a wide variety of cardiovascular disorders. We are at the forefront of research into the molecular basis for genetic cardiac disease and we have been applying that knowledge to the clinical setting, enhancing the care of patients and their families.

The Heart and Vascular Genetics Program at the BWH Heart & Vascular Center offers comprehensive evaluation, diagnosis and management for those who are at risk for or have an inherited cardiac disorder. Our team uses genetic testing to customize a diagnostic and treatment plan for each patient and their family members who also may be at risk.

Learn more about the BWH Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM) Clinic

Learn more about the BWH Marfan and Related Disease Clinic


Read Family Connections in Heart Disease and watch the video about inherited heart disease featuring Caroline Ho, MD

Cardiovascular Genetic Diseases Topics

Risk Factors for Cardiovascular Genetic Diseases

Patients whose blood relatives have certain cardiovascular diseases are also at risk of developing the condition and should be screened. These conditions include:

Symptoms of Cardiovascular Genetic Diseases

Symptoms of cardiovascular genetic diseases vary widely according to the disease present. See your physician if you are experiencing any unfamiliar symptoms.

Diagnosis of Cardiovascular Genetic Diseases

Tests used to evaluate and diagnose patients with an inherited cardiac condition are the same as those used in evaluating the condition when it is not genetically based. Cardiovascular Genetics Program patients have access to all the diagnostic services at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, including:

Treatment for Cardiovascular Genetic Diseases

Our cardiovascular specialists develop individualized treatment plans for patients based on:

  • Age
  • Overall health
  • Medical history
  • Family history
  • Severity and form of the disease
  • Tolerance for specific medications or procedures
  • Expectations for course of the disease
  • Presence of other conditions

Treatment for the genetic form of a cardiovascular disease is the same as treatment for the condition when it is not inherited. However, if an individual carries a genetic mutation for a cardiac disease but is not experiencing any symptoms of the condition, physicians at the Heart and Vascular Genetics Program will recommend close monitoring by an expert in that particular disease. Often, early medical intervention can prevent or delay the onset of disease, and careful evaluation can prevent or minimize the incidence of high-risk cardiac events and sudden death.

The full spectrum of medical, interventional and surgical procedures is available to  patients who develops an inherited cardiac condition, including:

What You Should Expect

The Heart & Vascular Center is located in the Shapiro Cardiovascular Center, across the street from BWH’s main 75 Francis Street entrance. The Heart & Vascular Center brings together the full range of services in one location, fostering seamless and coordinated care for all cardiovascular patients.

If you are having surgery or a procedure, you will likely be scheduled for a visit to the Weiner Center for Preoperative Evaluation or the Watkins Clinicfor pre-operative information and tests.

The day of surgery, you care will be provided by surgeons, anesthesiologists and nurses who specialize in surgery for patients with cardiovascular genetic diseases. After surgery, you will go to the post-surgical care unit where you will receive comprehensive care by an experienced surgical and nursing staff.

During your surgery, family and friends can wait in the Shapiro Family Center. Staff members will provide surgery updates and caregivers who leave the hospital will be contacted by cell phone.

Learn more about your hospital stay and returning home.

Multidisciplinary Care

Led by board-certified cardiovascular medicine physicians, the Heart and Vascular Genetics Program includes experienced genetic counselors and nurses who guide patients and families through genetic testing. We collaborate with experts throughout the field of cardiovascular medicine, including specialists in advanced heart disease, electrophysiology, interventional cardiology and cardiac surgery.

In addition, patients have access to specialists in radiology, rheumatology, ophthalmology, obstetrics and gynecology. We work closely with physicians at Boston Children’s Hospital and in Maternal-Fetal Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, allowing thoughtful and coordinated care for the entire family.

Resources

Learn more about heart disease in our health library.

Visit the Kessler Health Education Library in the Bretholtz Center where patients and families can access computers and knowledgeable staff.

Access a complete directory of patient and family services.

Visit the Brigham and Women’s Hospital HealthHub Blog which features information on a variety of topics, including heart disease.

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