Inherited heart conditions commonly misdiagnosed

A SURVEY has found that six in ten patients living with inherited heart conditions were initially misdiagnosed, with symptoms attributed to other conditions like stress, anxiety and epilepsy.

The survey conducted by the British Heart Foundation found that the majority (60 per cent) of patients had initially been diagnosed with another condition.

The BHF points out that a failure to make a diagnosis and start treatment puts such patients at an increased risk of sudden cardiac death but acknowledges that this can be very challenging. “A patient suffering from symptoms like difficulty breathing, palpitations, chest tightness and a racing heart rate could have an inherited heart condition, or they could have a completely unrelated problem.”

Around 620,000 people in the UK could have the genes which cause deadly inherited heart conditions and many of these people have not been diagnosed. In the survey 17 per cent of respondents said that genetic testing helped with their diagnosis compared to 67 per cent who were eventually diagnosed through an ECG or echocardiogram.

Dr Mike Knapton, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, commented: “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.

“These results show that it can be extremely difficult to correctly diagnose people, meaning it’s vital that we raise awareness about the symptoms and diagnostic tests for those most at risk of inherited heart conditions.

“We urgently need to fund more research to identify the faulty genes responsible for these conditions and find new ways to treat people with inherited heart disease.”