Inherited Heart Conditions Identified By New Blood Test
Inherited heart conditions are thought to affect more than 500,000 people in the UK. The British Heart Foundation have funded researchers from Imperial College London and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre and they have developed a test which could help diagnose people with inherited heart conditions. The new blood test looked at a specific group of genes that enabled them to quickly and reliably detect underlying problems.
Miles Frost, the son of the broadcaster Sir David Frost, died suddenly from an undiagnosed heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy last year. The family are now trying to raise £1.5m to make genetic testing available in the UK.
Tackling inherited heart conditions
- There are many different types of inherited heart conditions which can affect the heart and circulatory system.
- They are passed down through families and the first sign can be the sudden death of a family member with no explanation.
- They can affect people of any age and can be life-threatening.
- Genetic testing can identify the faulty gene.
- Steps can then be taken to reduce the risk of sudden death, such as surgery, lifestyle changes or medication.
The test, which looks at 174 genes, is quicker and more reliable than previous tests which looked at a smaller number of genes and were only able to identify specific conditions.
The test has already been rolled out and around 40 patients per month are being successfully tested at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust in London.
Dr James Ware, a consultant cardiologist specialising in inherited heart conditions, said: “Without a genetic test we often have to keep the whole family under regular surveillance for many years. This is hugely costly for both the families and the health system.
“By contrast, when a genetic test reveals the precise genetic abnormality causing the condition in one member of the family, it becomes simple to test other family members. Those who do not carry the faulty gene copy can be reassured and spared countless hospital visits.”
The findings of this research have been published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research.
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