Why Hereditary Heart Disease Occurs
Hereditary heart disease, also called inherited heart disease, genetic cardiac disease, or heritable heart condition, is a type of heart condition that can be passed from parent to child. Sometimes our genes, the fundamental building blocks of our bodies, change in unexpected ways. These changes, called abnormalities or mutations, shift some of our bodies’ processes and cause diseases.
What heart diseases are Hereditary?
There are several hereditary heart diseases. Because the genes affect how the heart operates, these diseases are not infectious like a germ or virus disease like the flu. Instead, these genes give a person a predisposition to develop a disease. A person with a genetic mutation is far more likely to develop diseases than someone without the genetic mutation. Having the mutation is not a guarantee of a person developing the condition, nor is a person without the mutation guaranteed to never have the cardiac disease. With that in mind, here are several common and a few uncommon heritable heart conditions.
Cardiomyopathy is a type of heart condition that makes it more difficult for your heart to pump blood through your circulatory system. While it does not have early stage symptoms, later symptoms might include breathlessness and fatigue, swelling of the legs, and a difficulty lying down to sleep. There can be several causes for cardiomyopathy, including various infections and diseases that weaken the heart’s ability to pump blood. Having a mutation for cardiomyopathy does not guarantee you will get the cardiomyopathy. Learning the risks and management styles is essential to a healthy life. Here are some common genetic cardiomyopathies.
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy (HCM)
- idiopathic or familial Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM)
- Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC)
- restrictive cardiomyopathy
An arrhythmia is a type of condition in which the heart is beating abnormally. This can include an abnormally high resting heart rate, an abnormally low heart rate, or an irregular heart rate. While some arrhythmias are benign, meaning not harmful, many are often serious. Below are some common genetically linked arrhythmic conditions.
- Long QT syndrome (LQTS)
- Brugada syndrome
- Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT)
- Short QT Syndrome (SQTS)
Marfan syndrome is a genetic condition more than an environmentally caused one. The genes controlling connective tissue in the body have mutated, and this weakens the support system for muscles like the heart and other organs. Because of the way genetics are transferred from parent to child, a parent with Marfan syndrome has about a 50% chance to pass the syndrome on to their children.
Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome (SADS)
Sudden Arrhythmic Death Syndrome is also a condition heavily influenced by genetics. Like other arrhythmias, SADS is a condition concerning the heart’s beat rhythm. Unlike many other arrhythmias, however, SADS often goes undetected until after a passing. Because it is heavily genetically influenced, when a person is diagnosed with sudden arrhythmic death syndrome after they pass, doctors often prompt a series of cascade tests to make sure other family members are aware of their risks.