Although genetics and genomics play an increasingly large role in the practice of medicine, the clinical care of patients suffering from cardiovascular disease or stroke has not been significantly affected. This is despite the tremendous strides being made to understand the genetic basis of both rare and common cardiovascular and stroke disorders through techniques such as genome-wide association studies (GWASs) and next-generation sequencing studies. Much of this knowledge remains to be translated to the clinic and must be subjected to clinical trials to ensure patient safety and a meaningful impact on clinical outcomes. However, even if this knowledge were to be successfully implemented into clinical practice, a potential barrier to widespread adoption is a lack of familiarity with basic concepts of genetics and genomics. Another concern is the possibility of the emergence of a significant gap in clinical care provided by practitioners who are informed about the clinical use of genetics and genomics knowledge and those who are not. Thus, there is a critical need to foster genetics/genomics literacy among all involved in the care of cardiovascular and stroke patients because it can be expected that these topics will transform the way medicine is practiced. The purpose of this document is to serve as a resource for practitioners in cardiovascular and stroke medicine on the application of genetics and genomics to patient care. Although not exhaustive, it contains an overview of the field written specifically to be accessible and relevant to practitioners. It also refers to additional educational materials available in the literature, in textbooks, and on the Internet. (Because this article is intended to be primarily educational in nature, rather than providing a review of the literature, citations are limited to a small number of research articles and reviews of exceptional interest.) It recommends a core knowledge base with which practitioners and especially trainees in cardiovascular and stroke clinical care should be familiar. Finally, it is intended to be a companion to the American Heart Association’s Council on Functional Genomics and Translational Biology Online Educational Series, in which online modules covering the topics outlined in this document are discussed in greater depth and are accessible to members of the cardiovascular and stroke clinical communities.
Experts from the disciplines listed below have tagged this resource as fulfulling genomic competencies.