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Many living with dangerous diagnosed heart conditions

12 March 2018 09:09

Heart conditions often go unnoticed

Heart conditions often go unnoticed

Many people with deadly inherited heart conditions are only diagnosed after suffering cardiac arrest, research has shown.

The British Heart Foundation (BHF) revealed that about one in five of these patients only find out the gene is in the family when a family member suffers an attack.

Sudden death syndrome

Around 620,000 people in the UK have a faulty gene which puts them at a particularly high risk of developing heart disease or dying suddenly at a young age, the charity said.

Each child of someone with an inherited heart condition has a 50% chance of inheriting the same faulty gene - but many people remain undiagnosed.

It's also estimated that around 12 young people (those under the age of 35) die of a heart condition each week in the UK.

Urgent need for better diagnosis

The figures have been released as part of BHF's In Your Genes campaign, which aims to raise awareness of inherited heart conditions and highlight the urgent need for better diagnosis.

People are being urged to investigate patterns of inherited heart diseases within their family.

Once someone has been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition, cascade testing - a type of genetic testing - should be carried out on all first-degree relatives.

BHF medical director Professor Sir Nilesh Samani said: "It is extremely important that family members are offered genetic testing when there's a history of sudden death or premature heart disease in a family.

"Once diagnosed, many of these conditions are manageable with medication or ICDs (implantable cardioverter defibrillators) and can prevent needless deaths.

"All too often, people aren't familiar with their family history, or they aren't aware that a sudden death might be linked to an underlying heart condition.

"We need to improve awareness of these conditions and ensure that people have equal access to cascade genetic testing across the UK."

Anyone with a history of unexplained sudden deaths in their family should speak to their GP or call the BHF Genetic Information Service on 0300 456 8383.

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