Faulty genes place half a million at risk of heart attacks

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A health charity has estimated that up to 500000 Britons have faulty genes which place them at very high risk of developing heart conditions or sudden death at a young age.
The British Heart Foundation has stated that years of under-diagnosis in inherited heart ailments has seen the estimated figure rise dramatically from 380000. This has created a deadly legacy that may span generations.

The charity has warned that anyone living with a genetic heart condition has a 50% chance of it being passed on to their offspring. Each year about 600 supposedly health people under the age of 35 die of heart attacks.

The British Heart Foundation has now launched its campaign called Fight for Every Heartbeat, in a bid to raise awareness and to call for added research into faulty heart genes.

The Medical Director of BHF, Professor Peter Weissberg, said that in recent years great strides have been made in the identification of some of the genes that may cause inherited heart disease. He stated that a genetic test done in a child of a parent who has been affected could save their life. However, more research is now required to identify all the responsible genes.

Professor Weissberg stated that recognising the genes responsible for the conditions will allow the children affected by it to be protected and over the long term it will lead to new treatment methods to overcome the problem.

The new campaign will launch online and on television today. It features Zara Stroud, a baby whose mother, Caroline, found out that she had the faulty gene linked to an inherited heart condition, prior to becoming pregnant. She was aware that her baby was at 50% risk of receiving the gene. The baby may have this faulty gene, and her condition is being monitored.

In Co Armagh, Patricia Sheridan sent her son and daughter to a screening held by their local football club. Nothing was evident on the ECG results, but she asked for specialist tests to be done. Her son underwent a genetic blood test which resulted in both her husband and another son being diagnosed with Long QT Syndrome. They needed to undergo a series of screenings before detection.

Image Credit: kristin klein

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