A family history of heart disease, especially when it shows up at a young age, is a warning sign that a strong genetic component is at play. Common heart conditions such as high blood pressure and coronary artery disease most likely result from mild changes in a wide variety of genes combined with lifestyle and environmental factors. However, a few rare diseases are caused by changes with powerful effects in a few key genes. The most common of these is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM). Now, doctors can use genetic testing to help guide individuals and families at risk for this condition.
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