LIFESTYLE
19/02/2016 05:05 GMT | Updated 19/02/2016 05:59 GMT

New Blood Test To Detect Inherited Heart Conditions Launched On NHS

A new blood test has been launched to help doctors detect inherited heart conditions, which affect more than half a million people in Britain.

According to the Press Association, the new genetic test is cheaper, easier to use and picks up more problems than existing tests for heart conditions.

The test works by looking at 174 genes and helps doctors pinpoint faulty genes, then prescribe relevant treatment or lifestyle changes.

It is already in use in one NHS hospital, but is expected to be launched across the UK soon.

black father and son old

The researchers who developed the blood test were funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF).

Last month, the charity launched the Miles Frost Fund in memory of Sir David Frost's son, Miles, who died suddenly last year of an undiagnosed heart condition called hypertrophic cardiomyopathy (HCM).

The foundation seeks to develop our understanding of inherited heart conditions as the Frost family believe Miles inherited HCM from his father.

Currently, many people are unaware that they have a faulty gene linked to a heart condition until a member of their family dies suddenly.

The new test, which is currently being used by the Royal Brompton and Harefield NHS Foundation Trust, helps to provide early detection, helping all family members to receive the treatment that they need.

Dr James Ware, from the Royal Brompton, said: "Genetic tests are invaluable when managing inherited heart conditions. They can help to make the initial diagnosis, and to choose the best treatment for the affected person. But where they make the biggest impact is in looking after that person's family.

"Without a genetic test, we often have to keep the whole family under regular surveillance for many years, because some of these conditions may not develop until later in life. This is hugely costly for both the families and the health system.

"By contrast, when a genetic test reveals the precise genetic abnormality causing the condition in one member of the family, it becomes simple to test other family members. Those who do not carry the faulty gene copy can be reassured and spared countless hospital visits.

"This new comprehensive test is increasing the number of families who benefit from genetic testing."

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Professor Peter Weissberg, medical director at the BHF, added: "Collectively, inherited heart conditions represent a major cause of heart disease and are often the cause of an unexplained sudden death in a young person.

"As research advances and technology develops, we are identifying more and more genetic mutations that cause these conditions. In this rapidly evolving field of research the aim is to achieve ever greater diagnostic accuracy at ever-reducing cost."

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