Is Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing Helpful or Harmful to HCM Families?

This recent article published in Nature discusses several real-life scenarios in which patients were mistakenly diagnosed with serious genetic cardiac conditions, including HCM, as a result of erroneous direct-to-consumer genetic testing.

These misdiagnoses directly resulted from misinterpretation of raw data by third party interpretation services that were working with raw data provided to them by direct-to-consumer genetic testing companies.

After medical testing, none of the patients discussed in the highlighted cases were ultimately found to have disease or be in need of medical intervention, though all underwent unnecessary medical testing and/or invasive procedures. Some even made radical lifestyle changes as a result of the erroneous genetic information.

This article demonstrates the unreliability of direct-to-consumer genetic testing, which has the potential to cause great upheaval to both patients and the medical system.

As always, patients seeking genetic testing should do their homework. Genetic testing for heart conditions is best when done by the experts – cardiac genetic counselors!

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