In the months following the revelation that former Boston Celtics basketball star Reggie Lewis suffered from cardiomyopathy – a rare, genetic heart condition that causes it to beat erratically – doctors cautioned that he should end his basketball career, since excessive exercise can be fatal for some of those who have the condition. Several months later, in July 1993, Lewis died of cardiac arrest during a practice.
Lewis's death represents one of the 1,600 individuals who die from the condition in the United States annually. Another cardiomyopathy patient in the news more recently has been Matt Christman, an Indiana father of seven who was recently profiled by Bloomberg. Each of Christman's children has a 50 percent chance of suffering from the condition, but his insurance company will not pay the $500 it costs to test them.
"For some people, the first symptom of this is cardiac arrest – they drop dead on the soccer field, the basketball court," Christman told the news source. "We have a chance to be a step ahead of the game here. You just think it's a no-brainer for the insurance company."
Going forward, the utility of genetic testing procedures is likely to be contingent upon the type of condition being assessed. Some tests are particularly expensive and the limited benefits derived from determining whether a person is susceptible to certain conditions may not justify the costs.
Results from genetic tests can also vary based on the laboratory conducting the procedure. Some may analyze procedure results in a way that is not consistent with other facilities, so physicians may struggle to be able to use that information to inform best treatment practices.
One pending bit of relief for individuals prone to genetic conditions is the development of cheaper, more reliable tests, which insurance companies may be more prone to fund. As these tests become more common, diagnostic laboratories will increasingly be called upon to support efficient and accurate processing of results.
This article is brought to you by Slone Partners, a leading laboratory recruitment firm in the emerging sciences of molecular, clinical, and in-vitro diagnostics, anatomic pathology and personalized medicine.
Powered by Facebook Comments
- Patients prefer privacy of their own genetic information
- Healthcare services not yet strained by genetic testing follow-up procedures
- Google co-founder fights Parkinson’s after taking a genetic test
- Genetic testing spending expected to increase by five times in next decade
- New prenatal test safely identifies genetic conditions