Inherited cardiac conditions refer to those cardiac conditions that you inherit from your parents. These are also referred to as inherited heart conditions or genetic heart disorders. Inherited cardiac conditions are often life-threatening and can affect anyone at any age.
Genetics play a vital role in influencing the risk of cardiac diseases in more than one way. From the robustness of the blood vessels to the way the cells in your heart communicate – the genes control every aspect of the cardiovascular system. A genetic mutation influences your chances of developing cardiovascular diseases. For instance, a genetic mutation can alter the way certain proteins function so that your body is able to process cholesterol differently, putting you at risk of blocked arteries. Parents pass on genetic mutations to their children through the DNA of sperm and ova. The genetic code of the parent is reproduced into each cell of the child during his/her developing years.
Types of inherited cardiac conditions
Some common inherited cardiac conditions include the following –
Atrial fibrillation – This is a common form of arrhythmia where your chances of getting a stroke increases
Brugada syndrome – This refers to a genetic disease of your heart rhythm, which may lead to ventricular fibrillation, followed by instant cardiac arrest
Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia – A calcium channel disorder in the muscles of the heart, which results in irregular heartbeats and causes problems with the heart’s electrical signalling
Long QT syndrome – An extended QT interval (electrical recovery phase) of your heartbeat, which results in chaotic, rapid beats
Short QT syndrome – A shortened electrical recovery phase that can result in a fatal arrhythmia
If any of your family members have had a history of heart disorders, or have been recently diagnosed with one, you should also undergo screening for risk factors.
Can inherited cardiac conditions be treated?
Treatment for inherited heart conditions like arrhythmia and cardiomyopathy may not be able to reverse the ailments but are often effective in managing symptoms, specifically if used in conjunction with lifestyle changes.
Many of the inherited cardiac conditions can be managed with medications alone, or with the help of a pacemaker or ICD.
Talk to your doctor and discuss with him/her your family’s medical history. He/she will guide you with the correct treatment approach.