Color’s mission is to help people live longer, healthier lives. Through our hereditary cancer tests, we’ve already helped identify thousands of people whose genes put them at higher risk of developing common hereditary cancers. We’ve worked tirelessly to give more people the chance to learn this before disease strikes, so they can take meaningful action to be alert for, and to prevent potentially life-altering diseases. We know that early detection can save lives, and the stories we hear back from the people we serve bear that out.
Last year, Color began its journey into the heart. We began by offering the Hereditary High Cholesterol Test, which has helped identify people who are at exceptionally high risk of developing high cholesterol and associated life threatening events such as a heart attack or stroke. This week, we’re continuing on that path by expanding our service to include testing for predispositions to a wide range of hereditary heart conditions, including cardiac arrhythmias, cardiomyopathies, and arteriopathies.
Hereditary heart conditions are rare but can have profound implications for those of us who are affected. As many as 1 in 200 people have a detectable hereditary cardiovascular condition. Some people with these conditions will experience symptoms like shortness of breath, rapid breathing, fainting, irregular or rapid heartbeat, chest pain or extreme fatigue. But in many people, these conditions will go undetected until there’s a major event, such as coronary heart disease, stroke, heart attack, sudden cardiac arrest, or heart failure. Until now, genetic testing for these conditions has been inaccessible, expensive, and too often, arrived too late to be of use to anyone other than surviving relatives.
Color’s Hereditary Heart Health Test will analyze 30 genes that contribute to the structure, function and rhythm of a healthy heart. Mutations in these genes can lead to serious heart conditions that might not otherwise be detected, but that can be monitored or treated when they are. For these reasons, these genes were identified by the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics as medically actionable. Knowing if you carry a mutation in one of these genes lets you work with your health care team to create a plan for early detection and prevention of potentially serious heart events. Those plans might include tests to see if your heart rhythm shows any abnormalities, tests for elevated cholesterol or plaque build-up, or imaging to see if the heart and aorta have developed normally and remain healthy.
This information can also be profoundly important to relatives as well. Genetics is the physical basis of our connectedness, and what we learn about ourselves teaches us about our family. Knowing a mutation runs in the family can have a big impact on assessing the risk faced by family members. In many cases, we know that what motivates our clients is wanting to protect the people they love.
When it comes to the heart, we also know that genetics is only one part of the story. While we’re incredibly excited about this new launch, we’re not stopping here. About one-third of all US adults will develop heart disease during their lifetime. Many cases of heart disease are due to causes beyond what will be identified with this test. But sometimes, even starting a discussion can have a positive impact. With our interactive, collaborative health history tools, you can work with your relatives to get a fuller picture of your family’s experience, share information, and begin to learn what that shared history means for your own risk of disease. We’ll begin to develop relationships, engage on important questions related to heart health, and spread the word. We all know people whose lives have been touched.
Our own research and development continues. We’re dedicated to taking best practices in health, genetics and medicine and making them accessible to everyone. None of this comes easy, but we’ve assembled an incredible team of clinical experts, designers, scientists, laboratory professionals, communicators and engineers to help build this vision. There are deep challenges, but all of the tools are in place to meet those challenges responsibly and well. Genetics is important, but it’s not destiny. We are more than the workings inside of us, but knowing who we are can help make a space where we can live well, and find the support we need.
Ready to discover how your genes might impact your risk for inherited heart conditions? Learn more here.
Interested in Color’s Hereditary Heart Health Test for your company? Learn more here.