Many cardiac conditions are caused by gene changes (variants) that run in families. The Penn Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease specializes in helping the entire family identify, understand and treat these genetic forms of heart disease.
What Is Genetic Heart Disease?
An inherited cardiac disease happens when a disease-causing change in the DNA (variant) is passed down from a parent's DNA to his or her children. Disease-causing genetic variants can cause various problems with the heart's structure or function. These conditions are also called genetic, hereditary or familial heart conditions.
There are several kinds of inherited cardiac disease, including:
Inherited Cardiovascular Disease: The Penn Medicine Advantage
Individuals and families with inherited cardiac disease have unique needs. When you and your family trust Penn with treatment for a hereditary heart condition, you'll get specialized, individualized care, including:
- Unique expertise: Penn is a major referral center for the treatment of genetic heart conditions. Patients travel to Penn from all over the country for diagnosis and treatment.
- A dedicated team of experts: Our physicians, nurses and genetic counselors are specially trained in hereditary heart disease and have years of experience. We assess risk, diagnose disease, teach patients about their condition and recommend individualized treatments.
- Family-based model of care: We help the entire family understand how genetic heart disease might affect them. We can screen parents, siblings, children and other relatives to determine who has inherited the condition. Then we monitor the entire family for many years to catch issues early and offer treatment.
- Flexible, customized communication: We design flexible plans to fit your family's preferences and needs. That may involve individual or group appointments, letters to inform relatives of their risk and telemedicine appointments. We take time to explain genetic heart conditions and answer all your questions.
- Advanced research: An inherited heart condition may affect your family into the future. At Penn, we conduct exciting research to help advance understanding of inherited cardiac disease. Our patients can enroll in studies that involve growing heart cells and evaluating new drug therapies.
- Programs for special populations: We have partnerships for patients with special concerns during their journey with inherited cardiac disease. These include athletes, women who are or may become pregnant, and children.
- A vast network of specialists: As part of the Penn Medicine system, we have access to any type of expert, test or treatment you may need. We collaborate closely with our colleagues, coordinating care to make it seamless for you.
Understanding Hereditary Heart Disease at Penn Medicine
The Penn Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease has access to every possible heart assessment tool. We carefully choose the right tests to pinpoint the exact cause of heart disease and give you an accurate diagnosis.
Our genetic counselors will help you understand the benefits and uses of genetic testing. We will determine what type of testing you need, then explain what the results mean for you and your family.
Read more about diagnosis and testing for inherited cardiac disease as well as genetic counseling for heart disease.
Getting Expert Help for Genetic Heart Disease at Penn
No matter what type and stage of inherited cardiac disease you have, we can help. Our team has expertise with the most advanced treatment options to reduce symptoms and help you live a longer, fuller life.
Depending on the type of inherited heart condition you have, the Penn Medicine experts may recommend:
- Implanted medical devices can control the heart's pumping or electrical impulses. Learn more about pacemakers, implantable cardioverter defibrillators (ICD)and ventricular assist device
- Medications such as diuretics, ACE inhibitors and beta blockers can lessen the symptoms of heart disease or ease the heart's workload. Other drugs, such as blood thinners and cholesterol-lowering medications, can prevent complications.
- A minimally invasive procedure called catheter ablation can correct arrhythmias, an irregular heart rate or rhythm.
- Surgeries such as septal myectomy and heart transplantation can greatly alleviate symptoms and prolong life in patients with advanced cardiac disease.
Read more about treatment for inherited cardiac disease at the Penn Center for Inherited Cardiovascular Disease.