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Is a sudden cardiac death hereditary?

Q: My father died in 1998, presumably on account of a sudden heart attack. I say presumably because the symptoms were like a heart attack but we never got the time to take him to a doctor. He personally felt that the cause of uneasiness was gastric and hence he would go to the doctor the next day which never happened. My grandfather also died a silent death about 60 years back. My question ensues from the apprehension whether it could be a genetic problem. Some year ago while in office I felt a black out and sweating and went to the doctor at a CGHS dispensary nearby. He said the reason could be a low blood pressure or heart ailment but subsequently, since everything was normal, I never went for any diagnostic tests. After my fathers sudden demise, I thought of going for a check up while I was posted abroad (Saudi Arabia). I consulted a cardiologist in a reputed hospital who did the test for cholesterol, ECG, other blood tests and treadmill test. Ultimately after doing all the tests he assured me that there was no problem but was unable to provide any plausible reason for the black out or dizziness and sweating that I had experienced. This was about two years back but the thing still lingers in my mind. Do I need to do anything or consult some doctor or I need not bother? Please advise.

A:Sudden cardiac death can be hereditary. Usually they are due to abnormal rhythm of the heart - Arrhythmia. You need to undergo a Holter monitoring, a test wherein we tie a belt and record your ECG for 24 hours. The episode of fainting, dizziness and blackout could be due to an episode of arrhythmia. We also need to look for Cardiomyopathy, for which I believe an Echocardiography has already been done. If all these tests are normal, we need to rule out simple things like vasovagal syncope, for which we need to do a Tilt table test.


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