Defective gene causes sudden cardiac death

January 30th, 2009 - 4:18 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Jan 30 (IANS) A defective gene triggers sudden cardiac death (SCD) without any warning or visible symtoms, accounting for 10 percent of such heart related deaths in Europe, according to a new study.SCD is defined as unexpected death occurring rapidly - usually in people deemed to be healthy.

One of the most frequent causes of death in Europe, SCD mostly affects older people but five to 15 percent of the victims are young people who had previously been asymptomatic.

Most cases of SCD can be explained by cardiovascular changes. However, in 10 to 30 percent of cases, no cause of death can be established, even after a postmortem.

Silke Kauferstein, specialising in forensic medicine at the Johann Wolfgang Goethe University in Frankfurt, and her co-authors have found that genetically linked diseases of cardiac ion channels are responsible for at least a third of SCD deaths.

A genetic study of the affected family is therefore essential if further cases of SCDs are to be prevented.

These findings were published in the current edition of Deutsches Ă„rzteblatt International.

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