There are different types of inherited heart disease. By identifying these conditions early, you can help improve your overall health and heart health over time. If a parent has a heart disease that does not automatically mean that you will develop a heart disease yourself. However, in order to determine if you will develop a heart disease genetic testing can be performed not only to determine if you will develop a disease, but can also help determine what type.


Heart Diseases

Let’s start off with cardiomyopathies, which are heart diseases that can affect the structure of your heart and interfere with your heart’s ability to pump blood. Then there are arrhythmias, which are heart diseases that affect your heart’s ability to squeeze and relax. Inherited arrhythmias can cause a person’s heart to beat too fast, too slow, or irregular. Some of the symptoms that are caused by this are lightheadedness, dizziness, and some times even sudden death. Other inherited heart conditions and diseases that are important to be aware of are coronary artery disease, which is caused by plaque buildup that blocks the coronary arteries, and atherosclerosis, which is narrowing of the arteries due to cholesterol buildup.


Genetic Testing

Genetic testing is done by taking a sample of a person’s DNA and looking for changes that could cause inherited heart disease. There are changes in the genes that a doctor will look for called pathogenic mutations, which means disease causing. This means that genetic testing will be performed on multiple individuals in your family, beginning with you parents, this way the doctors have a base line to compare your test results too. The genetic testing can be used to help identify the cause of the heart disease and help determine which family members are more at risk for developing a heart disease. It is important to note that inherited heart disease can affect more than one person in a single family.


Important Signs and Symptoms

There are many types of heart diseases, so it is important to know the signs and symptoms to watch for. High blood pressure or coronary artery disease can lead to an enlarged heart. Chest pain, indigestion or severe heartburn could possibly mean you have angina pectoris, but the chest pain can also mean a heart attack. Shortness of breath, fatigue, swelling of the feet, legs, or ankles can possible mean that you have heart failure. If you feel any of these symptoms, it is important that you call a doctor or go to the emergency room if they are really severe. A doctor can run an EKG test and blood work to see what is going on with your heart and what may be the cause of your heart problems.