Would you want to know?

None of us are perfect and our genes are proof.  Genetic testing has become more affordable and one area that genetic testing is gaining steam is in testing for heart disease.

In many instances, genes that cause heart disease are dominant.  That means that a person who inherits the gene from just one parent likely will develop a heart condition.  However, the affected parent can also pass on a healthy gene to his or her children, meaning they have no greater chance of developing the condition than anyone else in the population.

If the gene is found before a person develops symptoms it will allow a person to begin preventive treatment that could keep heart disease at bay.  In many cases that preventive treatment involves lifestyle changes like diet and exercise and possibly prescription medications.

The benefit to knowing is in the ability to prevent progression of the disease.  In the case of heart disease prevention can go a long way to slowing onset or preventing a deadly outcome but what about genetic testing for other diseases.  Would you want to know if you had a gene for a potentially deadly, incurable disease?   Would you want to know you carried a gene for some sort of cancer that can not be cured?

Think about this scenario:  At age 20 you undergo genetic testing and find that you carry a gene for a rare but deadly form of cancer that will most likely strike in your 50’s.  Would you want to know?  Would you want to live your life with that black cloud hanging over your head, would knowing alter the choices you make in life? 

Many of us live our lives by planning for tomorrow.  We save, we dream, we work and we play in a way that has tomorrow or the next decade in mind.  If you knew that your “tomorrow” would never come would you make different choices in life?  You bet you would and the question is would those all be good choices?  Who knows…

In some instances knowing about your future health would be great and in others knowing would be a weight on your shoulders that would be difficult to overcome.

There’s not a right or wrong answer to any of the questions I posed above but there’s not an easy answer either.

About Craig Thompson

I am a young professional with two great sons, and I work in the healthcare setting. I am employed in hospital administration and serve as Chief Executive Officer at Golden Valley Memorial Healthcare in Clinton, Missouri. At GVMH we care for our families, friends and neighbors. We're committed to providing the safest, friendliest and most compassionate care to all we serve.
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