A study published in the July 5 issue of Circulation suggests that testing relatives of victims of unexplained cardiac death may identify other family members at risk for similar heart-related problems.
The study group was comprised of 333 individuals from 43 families in which at least one member had suffered sudden unexplained cardiac death at age 40 or younger.
Of the 333 relatives tested, 151 (or 8.9 per family) had the same previously undiagnosed yet potentially fatal heart abnormality as their deceased family member.
Based on these unexpectedly high percentages, the researches “strongly advise” first-degree relatives (immediate family) and second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles, and grandparents) of victims of sudden unexplained cardiac death be referred to a cardiologist for testing.
The diseases identified by the researchers are capable of being effectively treated if detected at an early stage and, if treated correctly, are “associated with a virtually normal life expectancy.”
The study was conducted at the University of Amsterdam under the leadership of Dr. Arthur A. M. Wilde, a professor of cardiology.