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"Is cardiac arrhythmia inherited?"
I'm a male in my 30s and I'm pretty healthy, but I know that my grandfather died of heart disease, and my father recently died suddenly of cardiac arrhythmia. Is this dangerous to me? I don't really understand arrhythmia but I have to know whether I could have gotten this genetically.
That is a great question. There are a variety of cardiac arrhythmias and a variety of causes for these. It is not clear from the question what type of arrhythmia your father died from and whether it was directly from this arrhythmia, or from the sequela of the arrhythmia (stroke for instance in the setting of atrial fibrillation). Nevertheless, in the case of atrial fibrillation for instance, this is a very common cardiac dysrhythmia that people can develop for a variety of different causes. For the vast majority of these cardiac dysrhythmias, there has not been shown to be a direct genetic linkage, such that if your father had atrial fibrillation, it is unlikely that you will have atrial fibrillation because of this. On the other hand, heart disease - the filling of the coronary arteries with plaques which lead to an increased risk of heart attacks - definitely does have some familial correlation. Having a family history of high cholesterol, early heart attacks in first degree relatives, amongst other issues, can lead you to have a higher risk of having heart disease and possibly heart attacks, etc. It is advisable that you discuss these questions further with your primary care doctor, who will be able to assess your medical history and presenting complaints and decide upon the proper workup, and appropriate treatment options if available.
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