Hereditary Arrhythmias: Did You Get Your Rhythm from Mom or Dad?
Assessing Your Risk for Inherited Rhythm Disorders
You’ve inherited more than your nose and your grandmother’s silver. You’ve inherited your very heartbeat. While lifestyle and environment are factors in heart disease, genetics are also a key factor.
Genes affect many things in your body. From your eye color, height and even the shape of your nose, you have inherited a large portion of who you are. Did you know that includes your heartbeat?
Rhythm disorders are cardiac diseases that cause the heart to have an irregular beat. There are multiple forms, also known as arrhythmias, that can be inherited from either one or both parents.
With certain genetic conditions that are inherited in a dominant fashion, a 50-50, flip-of-a-coin chance exists that each child of an affected individual will inherit the disease-causing gene change.
Risk factors to recognize in your family history:
- Sudden, unexpected cardiac death
- Heart conditions in more than one relative on the same side of the family
- Relatives with defibrillators or pacemakers
- Sudden Infant Death Syndrome
- A genetic condition such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, Long QT syndrome, or Brugada syndrome, and others
Women can undergo prenatal genetic testing to determine whether their child inherited the gene change, or mutation, running in the family.
In order for a woman to undergo prenatal genetic testing, the family’s genetic change must be known so doctors know exactly what to test for. If the mother or father has a dominantly inherited condition, then their baby has a 50-50 chance of inheriting the gene change as well.
This article originally appeared in The Ohio State University Medical Center’s Heart Newsletter and is published with permission.
For more information:
Go to the Heart Disease health topic.