-- Robert Preidt
TUESDAY, Feb. 28 (HealthDay News) -- Researchers who used family
trees dating back to 1811 to estimate the death risk for people
with inherited heart rhythm disorders say their findings can help
doctors determine when to screen and treat today's patients with
Sudden cardiac death can occur in apparently healthy people due
to heart rhythm disorders. Genetic testing can identify people with
an inherited heart rhythm disorder (arrhythmia), but that raises
questions about how and when to treat children who may not yet be
experiencing symptoms, which can take years to develop.
In the study, researchers used Dutch archives to reconstruct the
family trees for patients with inherited heart conditions,
including long QT syndrome, SCN5a-overlap syndrome, CPVT and
Brugada syndrome. The arrhythmia-associated gene mutations examined
in the study are rare. However, the children of people who carry
one of these mutations have a 50 percent chance of inheriting
The investigators were able to identify age ranges that were
associated with an increased risk of death among people who had the
mutations but had not yet been diagnosed or treated for the
Among the findings:
The study appears in the current issue of the journal
Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics.
"We have to be careful not to draw conclusions for families with arrhythmias caused by different mutations," lead researcher Dr. Eline Nannenberg, a clinical geneticist at the Academic Medical Center in Amsterdam, said in a journal news release.
"However, this new data can guide screening. In LQTS1, we advise starting genetic and heart screening of first-degree family members (children, siblings, parents) at a very young age," Nannenberg added.
Female patients who have Brugada syndrome but no symptoms may
not need invasive treatment for the first 30 years of life, but
should follow standard prevention measures, such as fighting fever,
according to the researchers.
In people with SCN5a-overlap syndrome, it may be possible to
delay implantation of a pacemaker or implantable
cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) until after age 5, they noted.
The Heart Rhythm Society has more about
heart rhythm disorders.
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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