Genetic counseling helps patients and their healthcare team better understand health conditions that are passed on from one generation to another through their genes.

The Cardiology Genetic Counseling Clinic at Cincinnati Children’s focuses on adults and children with a personal or family history of a heart condition that may have a genetic cause. Identifying a genetic cause for heart disease can positively impact your (or your child’s) care and outcomes by helping your healthcare team develop a more personalized treatment or prevention plan. They may also discover risks other family members have and should be made aware of. 

We also see patients who do not have heart disease but are at risk based on family history. We can test you for a specific gene mutation found in an affected family member. 

Depending on your medical history, your genetic counselor will discuss your chances of an inherited risk. They will also talk to you about whether having genetic testing is right for you. 

Why Choose Cincinnati Children’s

Access

Our goal is to make expert, cardiology genetic counseling services widely available to anyone who could benefit from our services, even beyond the Greater Cincinnati region. We’re licensed to care for residents throughout Ohio, Kentucky, Indiana and Tennessee. New appointments are available within 2-4 weeks, and there is no age requirement or limit. Also, you do not need to be receiving cardiac care at Cincinnati Children’s to be seen in the Cardiology Genetic Counseling Clinic.

At-home Convenience

Most appointments are available via telehealth--through a computer, smartphone or tablet--but in-person appointments are available upon request. Most types of genetic testing can also be facilitated remotely, without the need to travel to a Cincinnati Children’s location.

Expert Collaboration

We regularly collaborate with our patients’ healthcare teams, whether they’re part of the Cincinnati Children’s staff or another system, from primary care providers to cardiologists and beyond. Consult notes, test results and any recommended changes to your care will be shared with both you and your healthcare team upon request. We also work with genetic testing labs at Cincinnati Children’s and across the country to ensure access to the most current and appropriate tests.

Conditions We Treat

Anyone with a personal or family history of a genetic heart condition may benefit from genetic counseling. Common genetic heart conditions include:

Cardiomyopathy

  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic cardiomyopathy

Heart Rhythm Disorders

  • Long QT syndrome
  • Brugada syndrome
  • Catecholaminergic polymorphic tachycardia

Other

  • Unexplained sudden cardiac arrest/death
  • Familial hypercholesterolemia (high cholesterol or lipids)
  • Congenital heart defects
  • Aortic aneurysm

If you're unsure whether you’re a candidate for genetic counseling, contact us to learn more. 

Treatments and Services

Our team develops personalized plans for screening and treatment of various genetic heart conditions. Our services include:

Evaluation of Medical History

A genetic counseling visit will typically include collection and evaluation of personal and family medical histories and a review of medical records, sometimes using computerized risk assessment tools, to help assess your risk or inform your treatment plan.

Consultations and Referrals

For some conditions and circumstances, a visit with an additional healthcare provider such as a geneticist or cardiologist may be necessary. We work with physicians in several clinics within the Heart Institute at Cincinnati Children’s and can help you identify the best type of visit for you, when needed. We may also recommend additional testing and can identify resources to help you understand and adjust to your diagnosis.

Genetic Testing

Genetic testing looks for changes in your DNA that can inform your medical care. It can help diagnose your specific heart condition or clarify if you are at risk for a condition running in your family. We can help determine if genetic testing is right for you, help facilitate the testing and interpret the results. We may recommend genetic testing for a family member first in order to provide you with more personalized care.

Family-Centered Care

Since genetic heart conditions can run in families, we work closely with you to provide family-centered care, including providing written information and recommendations to share with relatives when needed.

What to Expect

Your meeting with a genetic counselor is primarily a chance for you to ask questions and for us to gather information. Meeting with a genetic counselor does not mean you will have genetic testing. Rather, the genetic counselor will review family history and medical records and help you understand options and next steps based on those details. You’ll be able to choose whether or not you want genetic testing.

Making an Appointment at the Cardiology Genetic Counseling Clinic

We want it to be easy for your family to get the care they need. You can contact us to schedule an appointment, or your child’s pediatrician or cardiologist can refer you to our center.

Before Your Visit to the Cardiology Genetic Counseling Clinic

Almost all of our appointments take place via telehealth. Before your visit, a representative from our registration department will call you to pre-register and gather insurance information. It may be helpful to think about your personal and family history of heart disease. Some families find it useful to bring someone to their visit to help provide family history, ask questions and provide support.

On the Day of Your Visit to the Cardiology Genetic Counseling Clinic

At your appointment, the genetic counselor will gather medical and family history. We’ll also talk about genetic testing options. We will work with you to personalize your visit, whether that includes discussing and ordering genetic testing, discussing the results of testing or identifying resources that will help you understand your diagnosis. You will see a board-certified genetic counselor. In some cases, we may recommend that you also see a geneticist or cardiologist.

After Your Visit to the Cardiology Genetic Counseling Clinic

You will receive an “After-Visit Summary” at the end of your visit. It will include important details about upcoming appointments and test results. Your primary care doctor or cardiologist will also receive this summary. If you choose to undergo testing, your genetic counselor will work with you to arrange the testing and will report the results to you when they are complete.

Research

Clinical genetic testing is widely available and for most patients is the first step in identifying an underlying genetic cause for heart disease. Sometimes, though, clinical genetic testing isn’t able to find the genetic cause. When this happens, the genetic counselors can often help identify opportunities for additional research-based genetic testing or research studies specific to your personal and family history and genetic testing results.