Unique testing helps identify cause of sudden cardiac death

Answers from the Lab

Genetic testing can pinpoint the cause of sudden unexplained cardiac death, but postmortem testing options are limited. In this test-specific episode of the "Answers From the Lab" podcast, Linnea Baudhuin, Ph.D., and Kate Kotzer, M.S., CGC, describe how Mayo Clinic Laboratories' unique testing suite can provide answers and guide care for surviving family members.

Genetic testing typically requires whole blood samples, which often aren't collected postmortem. Mayo Clinic Laboratories' new tests (Test IDs: PMAOG, PMARG, PMCAG, PMCMG, PMHLH, and PCMSP) use formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded, or FFPE, tissue to identify disease-causing genetic variants.

"FFPE tissue may be the only specimen available for genetic testing for patients who may have died suddenly due to a cardiac event. And we are currently one of the only labs worldwide that offers genetic testing on post-mortem FFPE specimens," Kotzer says.

Underlying heart conditions are the most common cause of sudden unexplained death and are especially frequent in younger people.

"We are able to test specimens from individuals who passed away years ago and whose families are still searching for answers," Dr. Baudhuin says. "Identifying genetic variants is a huge benefit that helps to tailor family members' testing and medical management."

Listen to learn more about Mayo Clinic Laboratories' Postmortem Cardiovascular Genetic Testing.

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Barbara J. Toman

Barbara J. Toman is a Senior Communications Specialist at Mayo Clinic Laboratories. She is also the science writer for Mayo’s Neurosciences Update newsletter, which helps referring physicians to stay informed about Mayo’s treatment and research. Barbara has worked at Mayo Clinic since 2007. She enjoys international travel and cooking.