MONDAY, June 5 (HealthDay News) -- After diagnosis, patients perceive their own risk from a genetic disease like hypercholesterolemia by considering their family history of the disease rather than information about generalized risk, according to a report in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. Physicians should use this information to tailor medical treatment for these patients.
Jan C. Frich, M.D., M.Sc., from the University of Oslo in Norway, and colleagues studied 40 young and asymptomatic participants with familial hypercholesterolemia, who had diverse social backgrounds and family histories of coronary heart disease, to explore how they understand and perceive their vulnerability to coronary heart disease.
The investigators found that patients negotiated a personal and dynamic sense of vulnerability to familial hypercholesterolemia using a two-step process. First, they examined their family history, including ages of disease onset; then, they compared their own risk factors to those of their relatives. They took into account their sex, cholesterol levels, lifestyles and use of lipid-lowering medications.
"As expectations grow about the ability to tailor diagnosis and treatment on the basis of genetic risk, these front-line studies show the need to understand and include patient perceptions in any planning for (genetically) 'personalized medicine,'" according to an accompanying editorial.