New blood test can detect a range of inherited heart conditions
Last updated: 6.30pm, Wednesday 30th March 2016
Inherited heart conditions affect around 1% of the population, and can disrupt the normal functioning of the heart – sometimes with fatal results. Sometimes a family is only aware they may be at risk of an inherited heart condition when one of the family members dies suddenly, often when exercising. It is hoped this new test will allow for a more efficient diagnostic protocol for people who are thought to have these conditions. If a condition is present, this should lead to better and earlier management. There are already methods in use to detect inherited heart conditions, but the researchers wanted to find a method that would cover all genes currently known to be involved in causing such conditions. They developed a single test that covered 174 genes known or suspected to cause more than 17 different types of inherited heart conditions. The researchers found their approach had advantages over existing methods, in that it assessed more genes, was quicker, gave more in-depth information than the existing methods it was tested against, and cost less. The researchers state this test is for research purposes and, ultimately, use in wider clinical practice. According to the media, the test is already in use at the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, which is where some of the researchers work. If successful, it may be rolled out across the NHS.