More at risk of sudden death due to faulty heart gene than thought

pharmafile | February 2, 2017 | News story | Medical Communications, Research and Development British Heart Foundation, faulty gene, sudden death 

The British Heart Foundation has revealed that around 620,000 people are thought to be at risk of having a faulty heart gene that can lead to sudden death or cardiac arrest, 100,000 more than previously thought. The actual figure could be higher due to genes that are yet to be discovered and under-diagnosis of the condition.

The figure works out at 1% of the population of the UK population, but with very few warning symptoms it is difficult to diagnose; some people may experience dizzy spells, heart palpitations or blackouts that help to identify the condition.

Doctors recommend testing if there is a close family member who has been diagnosed as having a heart condition; those with one parent suffering from the defective gene have a 50% chance of inheriting the condition. If identified as potentially at risk, a person can be placed on anti-arrhythmic medications to control any further problems.

“The reality is that there are hundreds of thousands of people across the UK who are unaware that they could be at risk of sudden death. If undetected and untreated, inherited heart conditions can be deadly and they continue to devastate families, often by taking away loved ones without warning”, released BHF medical director Prof Sir Nilesh Samani in a statement. “We urgently need to fund more research to better understand these heart conditions, make more discoveries, develop new treatments and save more lives.”

What an individual can do with the information is open to question, given that symptoms are not always obvious. Perhaps the clue to the press release lies in the last line, in the plea for more funding to discover a better means of discovery or to identify potential markers to better diagnose sufferers.

Ben Hargreaves

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