Each cell in your body contains 23 pairs of chromosomes, which are made up of half your father‚ and half your mother genes. These genes contain DNA instructions for how your body works and what characteristics you have. Just like how we inherit eye and hair colour from our parents, we additionally inherit traits which influence our health. When your DNA is written correctly, then the instructions for how your bodyworks is clear and accurate, therefore you will generally be a healthy individual. However, mutations in your genetic code can create mistakes in these instructions, some of which may have a detrimental effect on your health. Due to the process of genetic inheritance, if one of your parents possesses a faulty gene there is a 50:50 chance you could inherit it too, and a subsequent 50:50 chance that you could pass that gene onto your children.
Genetic basis of cardiovascular diseases
Heart health is influenced by your genetic makeup, and certain genes may cause you to have a predisposition to developing a cardiovascular disorder. However, because these traits aren’t visible, the development of heart conditions can go unnoticed, meaning the first sign of any problems could be too late. The British Heart Foundation has found that 600,000 people in the UK are currently carrying a faulty gene that puts them at an increased risk of developing coronary heart disease or an inherited heart condition, but are unaware of the risk they carry. Early identification is key in preventing the onset of heart disorders, as the chance of developing these disorders is influenced 50% by lifestyle and 50% by genetics. Testing for these genes can help you take control of your health by implementing the correct healthy lifestyle changes or treatment to reduce your chances of suffering from heart diseases.
Future of cardiac genetic testing
The common saying goes, prevention is better than a cure‚ and genetic testing is making this possible for inherited heart diseases by identifying traits in patients before they develop the condition. The impact of preventive medicine is particularly important for common inherited cardiovascular conditions which increase the chances of cardiovascular diseases for a significant portion of the population. One example of such diseases is Familial Hypercholesterolaemia, which can affect as many as 1 in 250 people, causing them to suffer from abnormally high cholesterol levels and increased cardiovascular risk. Predispositions to high cholesterol can be easily managed by healthy lifestyle changes, therefore it is hugely beneficial to be aware of detrimental genetic traits, such as Familial Hypercholesterolemia, so you can improve your heart health.