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Inherited conditions can be passed on through families. They can affect many parts of the body or cause many different conditions. They are sometimes called genetic heart conditions.

Inherited heart conditions can affect people of any age and can be life threatening. For many families, the first sign there’s a problem is when someone dies suddenly with no obvious cause or explanation.These conditions are different from most congenital heart conditions, although some congenital conditions can also be inherited.

Our genes

Our genes make each of us unique. They affect how we look and how our bodies work. We inherit them from our parents. Inherited heart conditions are caused by a fault (or mutation) in one of more of our genes. If one of your parents has a faulty gene, there’s a 50:50 chance you could inherit it. If you do, then there’s also a 50:50 chance you could pass it on to each of your children.

It’s possible to have a faulty gene that can lead to a heart condition, yet never develop any signs of symptoms of the condition itself. You can still pass the gene on and there’s no way of knowing how it may affect your child, even if they do inherit the same faulty gene. Some people with an inherited heart condition do not develop symptoms, yet their child could inherit the same faulty gene and develop symptoms.

What inherited heart conditions are there?

The most common inherited heart conditions are:

  • Inherited heart rhythm disturbances, for example:
  • Long QT syndrome (LQTS)
  • Brugada syndrome
  • Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT)
  • Progressive cardiac conduction defect (PCCD)
  • Cardiomyopathies, for example:
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy
  • Very high cholesterol levels
  • Familial hypercholesterolaemia

Who can I speak to about inherited heart conditions?

You should schedule a discussion with any genetic information counsellors who will be able to provide more information and support.They are trained and qualified to advise information about your inherited condition and how it may affect your family.They can help you get an assessment at a specialist clinic that deals with inherited heart conditions.

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