Cardiac Conditions and Inheritance

Original Editor - Lucinda hampton

Top Contributors - Lucinda hampton, Tolulope Adeniji and Rucha Gadgil  

Introduction[edit | edit source]

Many different types of heart disease can be passed down through families. Inherited cardiac conditions (ICC) is an umbrella term covering a wide variety of relatively rare diseases of the heart. Before 1990 very little was known about gene faults which cause inherited cardiac conditions (ICC). Thanks to medical research there are more than 40 known heart diseases with genetic causes.[1]

ICCs are caused by a mutation in one or more of our genes. If someone has a faulty gene, there’s a 50/50 chance it can be passed on to the children. These conditions do not always have symptoms, so a person can be unaware they have the conditions, sadly sometimes the first time a family is aware of being affected is after a sudden cardiac arrest (SCD).[2]

Inheredited Cardiac Conditions[edit | edit source]

Examples include:


Familial cardiomyopathies

  • Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM), a fairly common inherited heart condition that can affect people of any age. This disease can thicken part or all of the heart muscle and in extreme cases, it can cause sudden death
  • Idiopathic or familial Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM), the heart muscle becomes thin and weak. As the muscle stretches, the affected chamber becomes enlarged, making blood pump less efficiently. This can lead to heart failure
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)
  • Restrictive cardiomyopathy.

Familial arrhythmias: Long QT syndrome (LQTS); Brugada syndrome; Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT); Short QT Syndrome (SQTS)

Heart Valves

Bicuspid aortic valve disease, the aortic heart valve has only two flaps instead of three, causing it to leak or narrow.

Marfan syndrome: damages the connective tissues in the heart and blood vessels, making them more prone to aneurysms

Familial Hypercholesterolemia: an inherited cause of coronary heart disease. If left untreated, it can lead to a stroke or myocardial infarct.

Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS): a condition which means there was an unexplained underlying familial heart rhythm that was not detected until there was an investigation following a death.[2][3]

Treatment[edit | edit source]


The ICC treatments may include, but not limited to:

  • Lifestyle changes eg weight loss or exercise to help prevent or minimize the effects of heart disease
  • Healthy living eg avoiding smoking, alcohol, caffeine and high-fat foods to improve your health
  • Medication to help regulate the way the heart works or minimize the chance of blood clots
  • Cardiovascular surgery to repair or replace damaged valves, vessels or other parts of the heart. eg CABG
  • Implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD), a device that automatically corrects arrhythmia

Resources[edit | edit source]

Inherited heart conditions[4]

References[edit | edit source]