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Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects

Irregular Heart Beat

01/15/2010

Question:

My grandmother is 79. We just found out she has a irregular beat and she is now hooked up to a heart monitor. The family just found out that it skips a generation. My mom doesn`t have any symptoms, but I myself have noticed that when I get stressed out or something going on around me that I don`t like, my heart hurts and I start having a panic attack. Does that meen I have this also?

Answer:

There are types of irregular heartbeats that are caused by specific genes that run in families.  They can be passed down from parent to child.  Sometimes people appear to have no problems or they haven’t developed heart problems yet , but can still carry the gene and pass it on to their children.  It would be important to see if there are other family members who have had heart problems as well.

I would suggest that you talk to your doctor about your family history as well as the problems you have noticed about yourself.  You may want to talk to a genetic counselor or geneticist to see if the type of heart problems you and your grandmother have could be genetic.  You can ask your doctor for a referral or you can locate a genetics center near you at the National Society of Genetic Counselors’ Resource Center website below.

Related Resources:

Find a Genetic Counselor - National Society of Genetic Counselors

For more information:

Go to the Inherited Disorders and Birth Defects health topic, where you can:

Response by:

Anne   Matthews, RN, PhD Anne Matthews, RN, PhD
Associate Professor of Genetics
School of Medicine
Case Western Reserve University