Some diseases of the heart and blood vessels are hereditary. The diseases can be followed for several generations in a family. They differ from folk diseases such as stroke, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure, which largely depends on your living habits.
How do I find out if I have an inherited cardiovascular disease?
If you think you have a hereditary cardiovascular disease, you can do a genetic analysis to try to find the inherited inheritance in you. Your relatives may also be tested if they have inherited the disease. Such family investigations are done at specialized centers in collaboration between cardiologists, pediatric cardiologists, clinical geneticists, and genetic counselors. In this text, you can read about some of the inherited cardiovascular diseases.
Hereditary blood fat disorder
Some have a genetic change that causes elevated blood cholesterol levels. It can cause you to have cardiovascular disease at an earlier age than usual. It may be, for example, myocardial infarction or familial hypercholesterolemia.
Hereditary aortic disease
Some have an inherited weakening of the large body pulmonary artery, the aorta. It can lead to a bulge on the large body pulmonary artery, so-called aortic aneurysm. The weakening can also cause the blood vessel wall to break. It is called aortic dissection. The disease almost always affects the part of the aorta that is closest to the heart and should not be confused with a hernia on the large body pulmonary artery in the stomach. Examples of hereditary aortic diseases are familial thoracic aortic aneurysm and dissections, FTAAD.
Hereditary ion channel diseases of the heart
Hereditary ion channel disease involves a change that causes an electrical disturbance in the heart’s muscle cells. These diseases can cause a heart rhythm that is faster than usual and can lead to dizziness and fainting. In some cases, diseases can be life-threatening.
Examples of ion channel diseases:
- Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia, CPVT
- Long QT syndrome, LQTS
Hereditary heart muscle diseases, so-called cardiomyopathies
Cardiomyopathy is a collective term for diseases of the heart muscle. Symptoms may vary, but heart failure and heart rhythm disorders are common.
Examples of hereditary heart muscle diseases:
- Arrhythmic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, ARVC
- Dilated cardiomyopathy, DCM
- Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, HCM
- Left ventricular non-compaction cardiomyopathy, LVNC
Hereditary storage disease of the heart muscle
In some diseases of the body, proteins are formed, which clump into long protein strands and stored in different organs. Amyloidosis is a collective term for such diseases. One of them causes the protein filaments to be stored in the heart and is called hereditary transthyretin amyloidosis with cardiomyopathy, FAC.
Hereditary elevated blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation
This hereditary change leads to high blood pressure in the blood vessels of the lung and is called hereditary pulmonary arterial hypertension, PAH. The disease affects both the lungs and the right ventricle of the heart and makes it easier to breathe.
Sudden unexpected heart death in young people
Sudden cardiac death among people younger than 40 is often due to a hereditary cardiovascular disease that has not been discovered. It differs from sudden cardiac death at higher ages which are often due to myocardial infarction.
In addition to the described diseases, there are hereditary variants of blood fat disorder, aortic disease, cardiac muscle disease, increased blood pressure in the pulmonary circulation and disease that causes sudden unexpected cardiac death in young people, younger than 40 years.
Influence and participate in your treatment
In order for you to be involved in your treatment, it is important that you understand the information you receive. Ask questions if you don’t understand.
Children should also be involved in their treatment. The older the child, the more important it is.
The patient version of the National Board of Health and Welfare’s national guidelines for care in hereditary cardiovascular diseases
The National Board of Health and Welfare has developed national guidelines for how hereditary cardiovascular diseases and a number of other diseases should be investigated and treated. The guidelines contain recommendations for health care about certain examinations and treatments that may be of interest to you.
In the area, there are also examinations and treatments that are done more routinely. They are not included in the guidelines.
Here you can read the patient version of the national guidelines for hereditary cardiovascular disease.