An arrhythmia is a heart rate that beats too fast, too slow or beats irregularly. Certain types of heart arrhythmias can be genetic and can be passed down from generation to generation. These conditions are known as inherited arrhythmia disorders or syndromes. There are a variety of genetic arrhythmia syndromes that may be inherited. Some of these genetic conditions can be serious putting affected patients at risk for serious, life threatening arrhythmias or sudden cardiac death. There are several types of inherited arrhythmic disorders. The most common types include:

  • Arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia (ARVD)
  • Brugada syndrome (BrS)
  • Congenital long QT (LQT)
  • Congenital short QT intervals (SQT)
  • Early repolarization syndrome
  • Idiopathic ventricular fibrillation (IVF)
  • Hypertrophic cardiomyopathy.

There are two patterns of inherited arrhythmia disorders. In autosomal dominant disorders, your mother or father has a copy of the abnormal gene. There is a 50 percent chance that your parent can transmit this gene to you. The second form of inherited arrhythmia disorders is autosomal recessive. In this type, you inherit one copy of the abnormal gene from both your mother and your father. Having the genes, however, does not confirm that you will have any symptoms of this condition. Symptoms of inherited arrhythmia disorders include losing consciousness or dangerous heart rhythms. You may not have any symptoms but your doctor may discover your condition during a routine physical examination.

If you or an immediate family member of yours has been diagnosed with one of these conditions, an evaluation by a heart rhythm specialist is warranted. Also if one or more member in your family suffered sudden cardiac death, consider evaluation by a heart rhythm specialist.