This is a huge topic, and impossible to cover in detail here, but I would like to outline some of the important points. Firstly, there are many different sorts of inherited heart problems, for example high cholesterol, angina, high blood pressure, heart attacks. These sorts of problems are often influenced by many factors in addition to your genes, for example smoking, diabetes, obesity, diet and so on. As a result, although there are genetic components, it is often not practical to pin the problem down to a particular gene. Other inherited problems, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, are much more strongly linked with genes. This is the condition that is often to blame when young people drop dead on football pitches, and can be tragic. There are many more, and they are often grouped together and called ‘cardiomyopathies’.
If you have a family history of heart trouble, especially if you have any symptoms, it is important to get it assessed by a specialist. This is because often the earlier a problem is found, even if you feel well, a specialist can make recommendations to prevent it getting worse in the future.
I trained in cardiology in London at the largest specialist centre in Europe, and have a research degree in this field. I run the largest dedicated clinic for inherited heart disease in the south of England, with my team including a genetic nurse counsellor. This means we can check your genes for certain conditions, which can help for example in knowing if your own siblings or children need to get screened too. Remember prevention is better than cure!
Are you worried about family history issues?