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Inherited Heart Disease

Inherited Heart Disease Treatment & Care

University Hospitals Harrington Heart & Vascular Institute is dedicated to providing expert care for patients who have been diagnosed with inherited heart disease - and guidance for their families. We offer genetic testing, counseling and a variety of advanced heart care treatment options including wireless pacemakers, defibrillators, mechanical devices and a number of minimally invasive and traditional heart surgery procedures.

Our cardiovascular genetics team specializes in cardiomyopathy, congestive heart failure, cardiac electrophysiology and medical genetics. They work with certified genetic counselors to identify patients with inherited conditions or genetically determined cardiac disease.

Inherited heart disease is genetic and can be passed from generation to generation. If you have an inherited heart condition, your health as well as the health of your family requires medical attention.

Types of Inherited Heart Disease

There are a number of different types of inherited heart diseases. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Arrhythmias: Abnormal heart rhythms are called arrhythmias. Brugada syndrome, Long QT syndrome and Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome are examples of arrhythmias that can be inherited.
  • Bicuspid aortic valve disease: The aortic valve moves blood from the heart to the arteries. Bicuspid aortic valve disease occurs when one of the aortic valves only has two flaps, instead of three.
  • Cardiomyopathy: A condition in which the heart muscle fibers enlarge and the heart walls thicken is referred to as cardiomyopathy. The most common type of inherited cardiomyopathy is hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.
  • Congenital heart defects: Some congenital heart defects which are present at birth are caused by gene mutations.
  • Marfan syndrome: Marfan syndrome damages the connective tissues and leads to aneurysms or bulging or bursting of blood vessels.

Genetic Testing for Inherited Heart Conditions

The purpose of genetic testing is to help you understand how an inherited heart condition in your family affects you and other family members. It can even help diagnose those at risk for heart disease before it develops.

When you meet with one of our genetic counselors, you will discover what types of genetic testing is available for your condition and how it can benefit you and your family.

It’s important to note that a mutation in a single gene rarely causes hereditary heart disease. Family history of heart disease and identified heart conditions in family members are used to determine the chances of a hereditary syndrome and which gene should be analyzed if a syndrome is detected.

The family member who has the inherited heart disease should get tested first so we can determine whether an identifiable gene mutation is present. In the event a mutation is found, family members at risk should be tested for the familial mutation.

Personalized Treatment Plans for Inherited Heart Disease

If you are living with an inherited heart disease, our UH heart specialists will help you understand the risks and design a personalized treatment plan to manage your condition and prevent it from worsening. Although your treatment plan will depend on your heart symptoms, we will likely recommend:

  • Lifestyle changes: Lifestyle changes such as consuming a heart healthy diet, exercising regularly, maintaining a healthy weight, managing blood pressure and cholesterol and quitting smoking can help you prevent or minimize the effects of inherited heart disease.
  • Medications: There are various medications we may prescribe to help you regulate the way your heart works or reduce your risk of blood clot formation.
  • Implantable devices: Implantable devices such as an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) may be beneficial for some heart conditions.
  • Surgery: We offer a number of minimally invasive and open heart surgery procedures to repair or replace damaged valves, vessels and other heart malformations.

Contact a Heart Specialist at UH for Inherited Heart Disease Expertise

If your family has a history of heart disease, or any inherited heart conditions, our heart specialists at University Hospitals can help manage and improve your heart health. Contact our team at a range of convenient locations.