Understanding Implementation Challenges to Genetic Testing for Familial Hypercholesterolemia in the United States

Rachele M Hendricks-Sturrup, Christine Y Lu
Journal of Personalized Medicine 2019 February 1, 9 (1)
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is the leading cause of death in the United States (US), with familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) being a major inherited and genetic risk factor for premature CVD and atherosclerosis. Genetic testing has helped patients and providers confirm the presence of known pathogenic and likely pathogenic variations in FH-associated genes. Key organizations, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Heart Association (AHA), FH Foundation, and National Lipid Association (NLA), have recognized the clinical utility of FH genetic testing. However, FH genetic testing is underutilized in clinical practice in the US for reasons that are underexplored through the lens of implementation science. In this commentary, we discuss seven key implementation challenges that must be overcome to strengthen the clinical adoption of FH genetic testing in the US. These implementation challenges center on evidence of cost-effectiveness, navigating patient and provider preferences and concerns, gender and ethnic diversity and representation in genetic testing, and establishing clinical consensus around FH genetic testing based on the latest and most relevant research findings. Overcoming these implementation challenges is imperative to the mission of reducing CVD risk in the US.

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