Genomic Medicine and Cardiology: Unlocking the Secrets of Heart Health in 2024

Posted on January 18, 2024

Genomic medicine is a relatively new discipline of clinical care. It involves formulating a treatment plan or medication regimen depending on the genomic information of an individual. This typically occurs via the analysis of one’s hereditary material, namely the deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA) or ribonucleic acid (RNA). With genomic medicine showing great potential for risk assessment, it’s quite clear just why it’s proving particularly appealing for cardiology purposes.In this article, we’ll explore the combination of genomics particularly for cardiac care to determine what secrets this could unlock for heart health this year and beyond.

 Secrets of Heart Health

Genomic medicine offers a crystal ball for cardiovascular health

Imagine being able to predict heart disease long before you develop any symptoms. This would certainly help you plan your lifestyle better while increasing the odds of successful treatment.

Well, that’s exactly what genomic medicine has to offer in the field of cardiology. With it already proving revolutionary in anticipating chronic illnesses like cancers based on various gene alterations, the experts reckon that it can do the same for various arrhythmias and cardiovascular disorders.

While cardiologists have long looked at family histories as indicators of cardiovascular problems, genomics goes one better by taking out speculation with a concrete analysis of genetics. Overall, genomic medicine can help physicians identify genetic predisposition of heart diseases so that patients can take other corrective actions beyond treatment to lessen the risk.

Cascade testing made more accurate with genomics

It’s quite likely that some cardiac conditions can be passed down the family tree. For instance, if a parent develops a genetic mutation that causes a certain heart disease, there’s a 50% chance that this faulty gene will pass on to the children. They, in turn, also have a 50:50 chance of giving it to their offspring and so on. All this is according to a report by the British Heart Foundation.

Via a procedure known as cascade testing, genomic medicine can help experts develop a better understanding of whether an individual can inherit heart conditions such as:

1.Pulmonary hypertension
2.Heart valve disease
3.Cardiac tumors
4.Heart arrhythmias
5.Cardiomyopathy and so on

Modern advancements in genomic medicine continue to push the envelope helping to elevate the diagnostic yield of genetic testing, particularly as pertains to predicting heart illnesses across blood relatives. Genomic technologies are continually helping to widen the scope in terms of genetic factors that lead to certain illness-causing gene mutations.

‘Erasing’ heart disease with gene editing

We’ve established that certain heart defects can arise from various genetic disorders. But what if you could perform gene editing to correct one’s DNA and take out these mutations? That’s what researchers at the Mount Sinai Fuster Hospital have been looking into, with a study featuring ten patients.

By editing a gene within the DNA, the researchers have major groundbreaking findings. They’ve discovered that gene editing can help reduce the levels of bad cholesterol in the body, thereby cutting out a major risk factor for heart disease. It does so by replacing, removing, or adding to one’s DNA sequence.

While this remains largely experimental, the data from the research is certainly promising and has been hailed as a “landmark proof of concept.” There remain many unanswered questions with gene editing, but it’s showing great potential as a solid way to prevent strokes and cardiac arrest.

Personalizing treatment plans based on genetic information

So far, we’ve talked a great deal about how genetics is and can be put to work for predicting or diagnosing heart problems. However, genomic medicine can also prove especially useful in the treatment phase after the patient has been confirmed to have a cardiovascular issue such as atrial fibrillation, for example.

Through a specific branch of genomic medicine called pharmacogenetics, physicians may be able to predict how your body will react to various drugs. Here are a few ways that this aspect of genetic medicine can prove potentially lifesaving for heart disease patients:

1.More powerful medicine – with the ability to analyze DNA molecules and other genetic information, pharmaceutical companies will be able to create highly specific drugs with amplified therapeutic effects.

2.Safer drugs the first time – Additionally, your genetic profile will help take the guesswork out of finding the right drug, thereby reducing the probability of adverse symptoms.

3.Improvement in drug dosing- For a long time, your age and weight have been the key determinants of drug dosage. However, physicians can now turn to one’s genetics to predict metabolization and generally match the right level of dosages.

All in all, genomic medicine can create more personal medication and heart disease management strategies that lead to more positive health outcomes and fewer side effects as well.

Genetic testing of congenital heart disease

During pregnancy, it takes about 2 months on average for a fetus’s heart to develop. It’s typically at a much later stage of pregnancy that physicians may be able to detect heart defects in the baby via an ultrasound. Even then, such testing may not be accurate or conclusive, with many cases of congenital heart disease (CHD) passing undetected well into adulthood.

Genomic medicine might offer a way to potentially change that with a better and more accurate way of diagnosing CHD by analyzing genetic factors. This might help the family make a more informed decision about whether to continue with the pregnancy.

However, this field may also prove useful before it gets to that point. It can help determine potential gene combinations of parents as well as the risk of recurrence, with this information helping to guide reproductive choices well before pregnancy.

Genomic medicine could be the answer to superior heart care

Genomic testing has for a while become useful for the diagnosis, monitoring, prediction, and prevention of other illnesses, mostly cancer. It was only a matter of time before it proved viable for cardiology as well. As emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and Web 3.0 continue to take hold, the future of genomic medicine for cardiology can only go from height to height. It’s bound to get more accurate, decisive, and faster over time, and it will be a key part of proactive cardiological workflows in the coming years. Stay tuned to our blog to never lose sight of the horizon of revolutionary cardiac care.