Genetic Health Testing for Cardiovascular Diseases

Cardiovascular diseases are one of the leading causes of death worldwide, with an estimation of 17 million deaths per year. Most of these deaths are caused by heart attack and stroke.

Genetics play a role in increasing the risk of cardiovascular diseases. Cardiovascular conditions are diseases that are linked to family history, especially if developed before the ages of 55 in men and 65 in women. Lack of physical activity, smoking and alcohol consumption as well as an unhealthy diet also contribute to one’s risk of developing cardiovascular disease.

Aneurisms

An aneurism occurs when an artery is weakened or damaged causing localized swelling and ballooning. As the blood pressure builds up this may cause the bulge to increase in size and extend along the blood vessel or in serious cases rupture- this results in hemorrhaging, blood clotting, severe complications or sudden death.

Aneurisms can occur in any part of the body, however they most commonly occur in the brain (Cerebral aneurysm) and heart and (Aortic aneurysm).

Signs and symptoms of an aneurism depend on the size, growth rate and location of the aneurism. Some small aneurisms may go unnoticed but larger ones may present signs and symptoms prior to rupture.

In a cerebral aneurism a person may experience severe and sudden headache, speech problems, confusion, loss of consciousness, seizures, light and sound sensitivity, nausea and vomiting, as well as a stiff neck. On the other hand an aortic aneurism may present sings and symptoms including back and abdominal pain, breathing problems and swallowing difficulties.

Both types of aneurisms are linked to high blood pressure (hypertension), high levels of cholesterol, weakness in artery walls (a genetic defect that is may be present at birth), obesity, and tobacco and alcohol consumption.

Direct family links with a history of aneurism make it more likely for other family members to suffer the same condition.  A number of genetic variants involved in aneurisms, if inherited play a role in increasing the disease likelihood.

Your predisposition for developing an aneurism can be determined. Genetics testing can create awareness of existing risk of the disease; awareness helps you to be more in control of your life, taking the necessary precautions in order to prevent the disease from occurring.

Want to read more about aneurysms? Click here.

Atrial Fibrillation

Atrial fibrillation is the most common cause of heart arrhythmia. Arrhythmia is an abnormal heart rate or rhythm. The heart can have an irregular rhythm and/or beat too fast or too slow.

In atrial fibrillation, as the term suggests is the fibrillation (very fast and irregular contractions) of the atria, the heart’s two upper chambers. This is caused by rapid and disorganized electrical signals that originate from the roots of pulmonary veins that overwhelm the sinoatrial node. The sinoatrial node is the ‘pacemaker’, responsible for the normal beating of the heart.

This condition may differ in duration from brief and transient to chronic. There are generally 4 types of arterial fibrillation, which range from that that is resolved within 48 hours without treatment to that which is present all the time and requires medication.

Persons suffering with arterial fibrillation may not feel any symptoms at all, however the most common symptoms include palpitations (fast and irregular heart beat), dizziness, shortness of breath, tiredness and chest pain.  In more severe cases heart failure, stroke and death can occur.

The exact cause of the condition is unknown; studies suggest that it is common in older persons and those suffering with an existing medical condition and persons with an unhealthy lifestyle.  Persons at risk include those suffering with: Obesity, diabetes, lung disease, blood clots, sleep apnea, high blood pressure, coronary heart disease, high coffee intake, among others.

Family history of arterial fibrillation may contribute to whether a person develops the condition.  Specific variations in genes that are passed down the generations are also known to increase the risk.

Do you think you might be predisposed to arterial fibrillation? Click here

Heart Diseases
Peripheral Arterial Disease
Venous Thromboembolism