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Inherited Heart Conditions

Inherited heart conditions are also known as genetic heart conditions, and are passed down through family. They affect people of all ages and can be life-threatening. Left untreated, an inherited heart condition may lead to heart failure or even sudden death due to cardiac arrest. These deaths with no obvious cause can be the first indicators for many families that there’s a problem at all.

Inherited conditions are different from most congenital heart conditions, though some can cause congenital defects to form, often as part of a syndrome.

CausesInherited heart conditions are caused by a fault or mutation in one or more of your genes. If a parent has a faulty gene, there’s a 50% chance you could inherit it. If you do, then there’s also a 50% chance you’ll pass it on to your children.

SymptomsSome people with an inherited heart condition don’t experience symptoms, while others develop symptoms including:

  • Dizziness
  • Palpitations
  • Blackouts

Diagnosis Diagnosing an inherited heart condition can be challenging. Your doctor or specialist may suspect you have one if:

  • You’ve been diagnosed with angina or had a heart attack at a young age
  • A member of your family has been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition
  • There’s a history of sudden cardiac arrests or premature deaths in your family
  • A death in the family is unexplained or thought to be caused by a faulty gene

If a family member has been diagnosed with an inherited heart condition, your doctor may suggest that you do a screening to check the condition of your heart. You may also have a genetic test to see if you’ve inherited the same faulty gene, called cascade testing.

TreatmentThe benefits of being tested and treated for an inherited heart condition are greatly reducing your risk of coronary heart disease, heart attacks, and sudden cardiac arrest. It also means close family members can be tested and treatment started if needed for them, too.