Patients counseled on genetic heart disease risk feel they have more control over fate

November 18, 2014

Adults counseled on their genetic risk of coronary heart disease believe they have more control over their fate, according to research presented at the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions 2014.

Researchers examined the impact of disclosing risk of 10-year heart disease with or without genetic risk information to 207 patients (48 percent male, average age 58) participating in Myocardial Infarction GENES (MI-GENES), a randomized controlled study.

The study's key elements included a risk score based on established risk factors and a genetic risk score based on 28 single nucleotide polymorphisms; risk disclosure by a genetic counselor in a 30-minute session; and two questionnaires about patient satisfaction - perceived personal control and genetic counseling satisfaction.

Researchers found that patients who received the genetic risk information had a higher perceived personal control value compared to those who didn't (8.85 vs. 8.54). Patients who received genetic risk information also reported a higher genetic counseling satisfaction (9.08 vs. 8.3).

"We have shown that disclosure of genetic risk led to increased perceived personal control and counseling satisfaction, which are associated with the increased likelihood of adopting healthier behaviors that may reduce coronary heart disease risk," said Christopher L. Robinson, lead author of the study. MI-GENES Study information (PDF)
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Christopher L. Robinson, M.D. candidate at Saint Louis University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri

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