What Hereditary Heart Conditions Should I Be Aware of?

What Hereditary Heart Conditions Should I Be Aware of?

Some risk factors can increase the chances of you developing certain diseases, such as a sedentary lifestyle, smoking, stress, diabetes, and so on. Unfortunately, even if you are an active person who is completely healthy, your heart may still develop a disease. This development happens due to the genetic predisposition of a specific condition; in other words, you are more likely to get a disease if someone in your family suffers from the same disorder as well. 

The three crucial inherited heart conditions are cardiomyopathy, familial hypercholesterolemia, and abnormal heart rhythm.

1. Cardiomyopathy 

Cardiomyopathy is a disorder that affects the cardiac musculature, resulting in the inability of the heart to pump blood efficiently. A faulty gene transferred down your family tree can lead to you developing this heart disorder. 

The three inherited cardiomyopathies are: 

  • Dilated cardiomyopathy
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy
  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular hypertrophy

If you are suffering from one of the inherited cardiomyopathies, you may develop the following symptoms

  • Breathlessness
  • Fatigue 
  • Lightheadedness and fainting 
  • Irregular heartbeats 
  • Swollen ankles, feet, and legs 

Cardiomyopathy is treated through medication for improvement of blood flow and management of symptoms. Moreover, you may also require a pacemaker in your heart for treating irregular heartbeats. If these treatment options prove ineffective and fail to improve the functioning of your heart, your doctor may suggest a heart transplant. 

2. Familial Hypercholesterolemia 

Familial hypercholesterolemia is another inherited condition resulting from the transmission of faulty genes from generation to generation. 

High “bad” cholesterol levels characterize this disorder, also called low-density lipoprotein (LDL), in your blood. Having elevated cholesterol levels since birth can be a sign of familial hypercholesterolemia. However, it isn’t easy to diagnose familial hypercholesterolemia, but specific findings can help your doctor in reaching the diagnosis, such as: 

  • High cholesterol levels were detected in the routine blood test. 
  • You suffer from a stroke or heart attack, especially at a young age. 
  • You have family members with diagnosed familial hypercholesterolemia or premature heart disease or members who suffered from a stroke.

Untreated familial hypercholesterolemia can lead to more severe complications, such as developing heart or blood vessels disease at a young age. The treatment options for familial hypercholesterolemia include taking statins to decrease cholesterol levels and making lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. 

3. Abnormal Heart Rhythm 

Abnormal heart rhythm, also known as an arrhythmia, is an irregular heartbeat. It means that your heart is not beating in the usual way as it should. It is either beating too slow, too fast or irregularly. There are certain types of abnormal heart rhythm that you can inherit, such as: 

  • Progressive Cardiac Conduction Defect (PCCD)
  • Brugada syndrome 
  • Long QT Syndrome (LQTS)
  • Catecholaminergic Polymorphic Ventricular Tachycardia (CPVT)

Having abnormal heart rhythms can cause the following symptoms:

  • Lightheadedness
  • Dizziness
  • Pale skin 
  • Pain in chest
  • Heart palpitations
  • Sweating 
  • Shortness of breath 

Your doctor may suggest having a pacemaker or implantable cardioverter-defibrillator fitted in your body for the treatment of abnormal heart rhythms.

Get yourself screened for hereditary heart conditions if you see your family members suffering from any aforementioned cardiac diseases.

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