Family Tree May Aid Treatment of Inherited Heart Disorders

Researchers who used family trees dating back to 1811 to estimate the death risk for people with inherited heart rhythm disorders say their findings can help doctors determine when to screen and treat today’s patients with these disorders.

Sudden cardiac death can occur in apparently healthy people due to heart rhythm disorders. Genetic testing can identify people with an inherited heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia), but that raises questions about how and when to treat children who may not yet be experiencing symptoms, which can take years to develop. In the study, researchers used Dutch archives to reconstruct the family trees for patients with inherited heart conditions, including long QT syndrome, SCN5a-overlap syndrome, CPVT and Brugada syndrome. The arrhythmia-associated gene mutations examined in the study are rare. However, the children of people who carry one of these mutations have a 50 percent chance of inheriting it.
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