When genetics has no answer: Heart disorder patients gain knowledge, but no help

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Atrial fibrillation is an abnormal heart rhythm characterized by rapid and irregular beating. While most episodes have no symptoms, it is associated with an increased risk in heart failure.

Getting a better understanding of a disease can open all sorts of possibilities for better treatments, even ones tailored to your own particular genetics. But that’s not really the case with [atrial fibrillation], and it provides a great example of how science can sometimes run up against limits even as it successfully increases our knowledge.

For most people, a-fib doesn’t develop until later in life, suggesting that it might involve some combination of genetic predisposition and environmental factors. But the complicated genetics suggest that, if environmental factors exist, there may be lots of them, some specific to different classes of genes.


For some of the genes, however, there is some cause for optimism when it comes to other treatments. Standard therapies for a-fib include trying a set of drugs that tone down the action of ion channels, making the heart a bit less reactive to electrical signals…But for people with structural defects put in place early in development, the only option would seem to be to redo the architecture of the heart. And, perhaps surprisingly, this is an option. But…for people who end up opting for this treatment, their genetic status is irrelevant.

The GLP aggregated and excerpted this blog/article to reflect the diversity of news, opinion, and analysis. Read full, original post: Why understanding the genetics of my heart disease isn’t much help

For more background on the Genetic Literacy Project, read GLP on Wikipedia

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