Be still my beat­ing heart

The Star Early Edition - - HEALTH -

PA­TIENTS with deadly heart con­di­tions are mis­tak­enly be­ing di­ag­nosed with stress, re­search sug­gests.

An es­ti­mated 620 000 peo­ple in Bri­tain are liv­ing with ge­netic heart prob­lems, yet the vast ma­jor­ity have no idea they are at risk.

The dis­or­ders can go un­de­tected un­til some­one’s heart sud­denly stops beat­ing.

The Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion found six in 10 pa­tients with in­her­ited heart con­di­tions had their symp­toms at­trib­uted to other causes be­fore doc­tors re­alised what was wrong with them.

Some 23% were told they were suf­fer­ing with stress or anx­i­ety, 7% were told they had asthma, and 5% were told they had epilepsy.

Some 54% had to wait more than two years be­fore they were fi­nally di­ag­nosed with a heart con­di­tion, the poll of 370 peo­ple with ge­netic heart con­di­tions re­vealed.

At least 624 suf­fer­ers are thought to die each year from sud­den car­diac death, but this fig­ure is con­sid­ered the tip of the ice­berg, with many other deaths mis­tak­enly put down to other causes.

Bolton Wan­der­ers foot­baller Fabrice Muamba col­lapsed with such a con­di­tion in 2012, aged just 23, his heart stop­ping for 78 min­utes.

He re­cov­ered and was di­ag­nosed with hy­per­trophic car­diomy­opa­thy – a heart con­di­tion caused by ge­netic fac­tors.

Many in­her­ited heart con­di­tions give peo­ple a weak heart mus­cle, so blood is not pumped prop­erly, while oth­ers cause an ab­nor­mal heart rhythm, which means the or­gan could sud­denly stop beat­ing.

Miles Frost, son of broad­caster Sir David Frost, col­lapsed and died at the age of 31 in 2015.

A post-mortem ex­am­i­na­tion found he had hy­per­trophic car­diomy­opa­thy.

Sir David, who had died from a heart at­tack two years pre­vi­ously, aged 74, had the same con­di­tion, but his son was never told he might have in­her­ited the faulty gene and so was never tested for it.

Chil­dren have a 50% chance of in­her­it­ing it.

Dr Mike Knap­ton, of the Bri­tish Heart Foun­da­tion, said: “In­her­ited heart con­di­tions can be silent killers.

“This means that early di­ag­no­sis is es­sen­tial so peo­ple can be put on the right treat­ment and live a nor­mal life.”

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