Ram and Seema Pradhan (names changed) had reasons to worry. Ram had recently lost his 23-year-old brother to sudden cardiac arrest. That was not all. Ram’s entire family tree seemed to be blighted by premature deaths of young and able-bodied men due to heart ailments. Without giving any warnings or long-term symptoms, death seemed to be stalking them.
Seema, who had been eager to start a family, was worried. When she first heard of preventive healthcare services offered by Mapmygenome, she decided to take an afternoon off from work and walk into our office at Hyderabad. Our staff heard her problems, offered her a cup of tea, and suggested a session with our genetic counselor.
Seema’s first reaction to this idea was, “No! I do not need a psychiatrist! I want a solution.” She thought we were recommending a session with a psychiatric counselor.
Genetic Counseling Does Not Involve a Couch
Like Seema, there are many who think genetic counselors are psychiatrists or even therapists who offer advice on managing situations, or in this case potential or current health issues. Blame it on the usage – the word “counselor” is often associated with a person who makes his clients lie down on a couch and listens to their problems. Not many are comfortable with this picture.
Yes, genetic counselors do listen to your health history, and they are expected to possess a certain amount of sympathy and empathy, but the similarities end there. Genetic counselors are experts in genetics and health sciences who bring you closer to new and exciting technologies that focus on better health. According to the National Society of Genetic Counselors USA, “Genetic counselors can give you the personalized help you need when it comes to you and your family’s genetic health.”
What Happens in a Genetic Counseling Session?
A genetic counselor analyzes your medical and family health history and offers solutions to potential problems, recommends genetic tests where required, and helps you understand health patterns better. Typically, this involves a detailed questionnaire that will cover lifestyle, personal health history, and family health history, up to three generations. The genetic counselor draws a “Pedigree Chart” – a kind of family health tree. This can help in discovering possible health risks for family members. If you have already had a genetic test, you can expect the genetic counselor to correlate your report with your health history. Finally, you receive recommendations and solutions – these could range from lifestyle changes to diagnostic tests and referrals to the right healthcare experts.
Locating a Genetic Counselor
If you want to opt for a genetic counseling session, you do not have to start flipping through your local Yellow Pages. A telephonic or online session is also possible. You can book an appointment with Mapmygenome genetic counselors for a telephonic or Skype session.
Nowadays, many hospitals also have their Genetics and Genetic Counseling Departments. Often, medical practitioners refer to genetic counselors for recommending the right genetic test to their patients. Genetic Counselors, with their specialized knowledge of medical genetics, help doctors in understanding genetic patterns of diseases and in interpreting results of genetic tests. This can further help doctors in recommending treatment/prophylaxis. For example, a patient with history of breast cancer is likely to go to an oncologist, who may recommend the BRCA test in consultation with a genetic counselor. Based on the report, the genetic counselor and the doctor may suggest preventive measures.
In India, a genetic counseling session at a private hospital or a molecular diagnostics lab may cost you anywhere between INR 1000 and INR 3000. When an entire family decides to go for genetic counseling, the costs may increase. Most of the places that offer genetic counseling have experts who have received training in UK, USA, or Australia. While the pricing may seem steep, they are just a fraction of the amounts people end up spending in treatment or diagnosis.
Seema and Ram decided to go for a genetic counseling session, where the genetic counselor did a complete investigation of the entire family tree and found that some men in the family had inherited pathogenic variants associated with familial hypertrophic cardiomyopathy. While genetic tests proved that Ram had not inherited these variants, some of his other cousins were found to have inherited them. His cousins have been referred to cardiologists for risk mitigation.
A genetic counseling session can save your life or improve quality of life at costs that are a fraction of treatment costs. It is always better to relieve your fears regarding your health than to worry about health issues.
Looking for a Genetic Counselor?
Mapmygenome can help you. We have expert genetic counselors who can help you understand health patterns in your family and alleviate fears of disease. To book an appointment with our genetic counselors, you can write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call 1800-102-4595. Today!