heart rhythmAbout 620,000 people in the UK are carrying a faulty gene that puts them at high risk sudden death, new figures from the British Heart Foundation have suggested.

However, the overall figure could be much higher due to underdiagnosis and undiscovered faulty genes, which can increase a person’s risk of these potentially fatal conditions.

These conditions can affect people of any age and each child of someone with an inherited heart condition has a 50% chance of inheriting it. For many families, the first sign there is a problem is when someone dies suddenly from a cardiac arrest or heart attack with no obvious cause or explanation.

Professor Sir Nilesh Samani, the British Heart Foundation’s Medical Director, said: “If undetected and untreated, inherited heart conditions, can be deadly and they continue to devastate families, often by taking away loved ones without warning. Thanks to the public’s kind support our researchers have discovered some of the genes responsible for these frightening conditions but there is still much to do.”

The research has helped to discover many of the faulty genes that cause inherited heart conditions, which has led to the development of genetic testing services for those at highest risk for some of these conditions. The charity said more research is needed urgently in the field.