In many cases, heart disease is due to a combination of lifestyle choices: being overweight, having an unhealthy diet, smoking and drinking.
However for one in 200 people, it can have a genetic basis – and knowing if you are one of those people means that you can take action early, helping to reduce your risk of developing the disease.
Inherited heart disease covers a range conditions affecting the heart and circulatory system which are passed down through families. They can affect people of any age, and can be life-threatening.
Inherited Heart Disease
There are many different types of inherited heart conditions so diagnosing the exact disease and gene causing it is key to effective treatment. For many people, the first sign that they have an inherited heart condition is when a member of their family dies suddenly with no obvious explanation.
Coronary Heart Disease (CHD) is the leading cause of death worldwide and is responsible for more than 66,000 deaths in the UK each year.
CHD starts several decades before symptoms develop, so there is a need to identify those at risk earlier which genetic testing can do.
Familial Hypercholesterolaemia (FH) is another inherited heart condition affecting one in 500 people in the UK and greatly increases a person’s heart attack risk. If one person is found with FH, on average half their brothers and sisters and half their children will also have the faulty gene and be at high risk of early heart disease.
Left undiagnosed, up to half of people with FH will develop heart disease before they are 60.
Gene Risk Factor Research
As research advances and technology develops, the medical field is identifying more and more genetic mutations are that cause these heart conditions. A recent study, which was undertaken in the UK Biobank, analysed genomic data from 500,000 people aged between 40 and 69, including 22,000 who had coronary heart disease. The researchers tested for patterns of risky genes rather than a single inherited gene.
The outcome was that participants with a genomic risk score in the top 20% were more than four times more likely to develop CHD than those with scores in the bottom 20%.
Everything Genetic Heart Disease Tests
We currently offer two tests which check for the presence or absence of genetic mutations associated with hereditary heart disease. Our Hereditary High Cholesterol Test checks specifically for those associated with a disorder called Familial Hypercholesterolemia (FH), while the Hereditary Heart Health Test is a broader 30 gene test, analysing your risk of developing FH and other heart conditions.
Both tests cost £395 and you can access them in a number of ways:
- Buy it directly from the website (this cost may be covered by your medical insurance)
- Through your private healthcare provider.
Tests are only available to those aged 18 years or above.