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A blood test has been created that can detect all known inherited heart condition genes, boosting the prospects of diagnosing potentially fatal defects, the British Heart Foundation (BHF) said.
By identifying 174 genes related to 17 inherited heart defects, which affect more than half a million people in the UK and are often the cause of unexplained sudden deaths, the assessment should help people obtain appropriate treatment.
The research, published in the Journal of Cardiovascular Translational Research on Friday, has already led to the test being introduced at Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS foundation trust – where about 40 patients a month are being assessed for an inherited heart condition (IHC). The hope is that it will eventually be adopted by NHS labs across the country.
Dr James Ware, one of the lead researchers on the study at Imperial College London and the MRC Clinical Sciences Centre, said: “It’s really hard to overstate the importance of genetic testing when you’re managing a family with IHCs.”
The test is cheaper and more effective than existing assessments, which look at a smaller number of genes and only identify specific conditions. Ware said it also has the benefit of being “off the shelf” so that other experts can develop it. This means that as other genes are identified as being linked to IHCs, they too can be incorporated into the test.
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