Cardiff scientists solve sudden cardiac death mystery

Heart specialists at Cardiff University have, for the first time, discovered the cause of sudden cardiac death in young children.

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BHF: We have a breakthrough - now we need a cure

Sudden cardiac death - which came to prominence when foootballer Fabrice Muamba suffered a near-fatal heart attack during a game - kills over 600 people under the age of 34 every year.

Now scientists at Cardiff University have identified the faulty gene that causes the condition, giving hope that a cure could be within reach.

Today we spoke to Professor Jeremy Pearson from the British Heart Foundation, who says he is encouraged by the breakthrough.

Scientists solve sudden cardiac death mystery

Heart specialists at Cardiff University have, for the first time, discovered the cause of sudden cardiac death in young children.

Credit: PA Images

Scientists have found that incoherent communication between two proteins in heart cells was to blame for the previously unexplained cause of death.

"A healthy and regular heartbeat is maintained by precise control of the calcium level in heart muscle cells, but our experiments have identified a genetic flaw that invites chaos to this process."

– Professor Tony Lai, Cardiff University

In the future, Professor Lai anticipates that the finding will give doctors a new weapon in the fight against sudden cardiac death.

"Uncovering genetic links like this is vital to help combat the devastating effects of inherited heart conditions. The British Heart Foundation is urgently campaigning for more research to help find the undiscovered faulty genes putting people at greater risk of heart disease."

– Professor Jeremy Pearson, British Heart Foundation

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