CARDIOGENETICS HELPS ANSWER QUESTIONS ABOUT THE HEART Genetics and heart disease: “It’s a truly wonderful thing that we can use genetics to save people’s lives.” By Sanford Health
ven before moving into the field of cardiogenetics, genetic counselor Kristen DeBerg, M.S., with Sanford Imagenetics, heard a similar refrain from countless patients. “I’m either going to die of cancer or a heart attack,” they’d matter-of-factly say. DeBerg has a response. “Well, let’s see if we can change that,” she says. DeBerg is working to make that change through cardiogenetics. Her field of expertise is opening the door to answers about how genetics plays a role in heart illness through improved screening and early treatment of certain inherited cardiovascular disorders, as it already has with cancer patients. This means that if people in your family have a history of heart problems, there’s a chance you could, too.
SiouxFallsWoman.net | February/March 2019
DeBerg is board-certified by the American Board of Genetic Counselors. Through cardiogenetics, counselors like DeBerg can look at families with people affected by similar cardiac issues — from irregular heartbeats to heart diseases to cases of unusually elevated cholesterol — and investigate if a genetic variant is at play. “Having a heart attack at a young age is not normal. It’s not normal to die at age 40 or 50 from a cardiac condition,” she says. “So if a family has a history of these abnormalities, there could be a genetic component.” SANFORD CHIP If there is a history of cardiac disorders in your family, make sure to notify your doctors. Sanford Health also now offers the Sanford Chip, which can help you identify any possible genetic conditions you may have.
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