Young people who die from suspected heart problem should have their DNA analysed

21st September 2015

All young people who die suddenly from a suspected heart problem should have their DNA analysed, new European guidelines suggest.

The European Society of Cardiology (ESC) has recommended that detailed genetic testing should be a fundamental component of the post mortem examination.   Identification of a potential genetic cause, such as cardiomyopathy, would help ensure that relatives were quickly diagnosed and protected.

The guidelines, which focus on preventing sudden cardiac death in patients with dangerous heart rhythms, have been published in the European Heart Journal and on the ESC website.

“For the first time these guidelines have incorporated the concept proposed by several documents that DNA analysis should be a fundamental component of post mortem assessment in young sudden death victims,” said Professor Silvia Priori, chairman of the guidelines task force.

“The molecular analysis helps to identify the presence of genetic diseases that can occur in a structurally normal heart and therefore cannot be identified during autopsy. Identification of a genetic cause facilitates the early diagnosis of affected relatives and may help protect them through lifestyle modifications to the early use of therapies.”