Stanford offers specialized services, including genetic testing and personalized care, for people with heart diseases that are passed down through families.
Inherited heart diseases—which are passed down through families—can be life-threatening. That’s why it’s important for people who have family members with an inherited heart disease to get genetic testing. Sisters Kristina and Monica talk about being diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM) and their experiences with the team at Stanford.
When Kristina turned 35, she decided to have a comprehensive physical exam. An electrocardiogram (EKG) showed that she has HCM. Her sister Monica noticed that she sometimes had chest pains or could feel her heart skip a beat. Her doctors, unable to find specific problems, decided to monitor Monica every two years.
When Kristina and Monica’s father died suddenly, the sisters went back to their cardiologists and decided to dig deeper. That’s when they were referred to Stanford for further evaluation.
At the Stanford Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Diseases, our team specializes in evaluating and treating people with heart diseases that are passed down through families. Euan A. Ashley, MD, a Stanford cardiologist describes HCM as a disease in which a change in the gene that codes for the heart muscle causes the heart muscle to become thicker and stiffer.
Kristina and Monica had all their testing done in one day, and tests confirmed that both have HCM. Both sisters then saw Dr. Ashley, who helped them understand how the condition affects them. He also tells patients how an inherited heart disease could affect other members of their family so his team can potentially protect other family members too.
Colleen Caleshu, a cardiovascular genetic counselor at Stanford, notes that the team is really caring for the whole family. Patients come in for their own care, but the team is also thinking about their family members. Other people in the family could have this heart condition without even knowing it.
Kristina says that her first priority was to make sure that her dad’s sister also get tested. That way, the whole family can find out if there’s anything they need to do for their kids.
Colleen points out that every single inherited heart condition that is known, to date, has a treatment. That’s why it’s important for people who have a heart condition in their family to get evaluated—even if they feel healthy. Because there is treatment, and that treatment can be lifesaving.
Stanford Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-clinics/center-inherited-cardiovascular-disease.html
Euan A. Ashley, MD: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/doctors/a/euan-ashley.html
Colleen Caleshu: https://med.stanford.edu/profiles/colleen-caleshu?tab=bio
Information about hypertrophic cardiomyopathy: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-conditions/blood-heart-circulation/hypertrophic-cardiomyopathy.html
Information about ICDs: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatments/i/icd.html
Information about event monitors: https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-tests/h/holter-monitor.html