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Around 620,000 people in the UK are carrying a faulty gene that puts them at high risk of developing coronary heart disease or sudden death, the British Heart Foundation has estimated.
The charity said the overall figure could be even higher due to under diagnosis and undiscovered faulty genes which can increase a person’s risk of these potentially fatal conditions.
These conditions can affect people of any age and each child of someone with an inherited heart condition have a 50 per cent chance of inheriting it.
For many families, the first sign there’s a problem is when someone dies suddenly from a cardiac arrest or heart attack with no obvious cause or explanation.
Each week in the UK, around 12 seemingly healthy people aged 35 or under are victims of sudden cardiac death with no explanation, largely due to undiagnosed heart conditions.
Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, BHF medical director, said: “If undetected and untreated, inherited heart conditions, can be deadly and they continue to devastate families, often by taking away loved ones without warning.
“Thanks to the public’s kind support our researchers have discovered some of the genes responsible for these frightening conditions but there is still much to do.”
Research by the BHF has helped to discover many of the faulty genes that cause inherited heart conditions, which has led to the development of genetic testing services for those at highest risk for some of these conditions.
However it says more research is urgently to end the devastation.