Cardiac arrest can strike without warning. Dr. Andrew Krahn is determined to change that.
It’s a tragic news story that often makes headlines — a young, healthy, fit athlete suddenly collapses and dies of cardiac arrest.
“Stricken in the prime of life” — that’s how Heart and Stroke Foundation researcher Dr. Andrew Krahn describes the five out of every 10,000 Canadians who suffer from long Q-T syndrome (LQTS).
This rare, often genetic condition puts perfectly healthy men, women and children at risk of a sudden cardiac arrest — and death.
Imagine if you had LQTS but didn’t know it. Or imagine if your child had LQTS, which Dr. Krahn calls the “lightning strike” of arrhythmia.
Either scenario is frightening. That’s why Dr. Krahn is working to develop an effective testing method for this and other inherited abnormalities. He is also in charge of a national registry of patients who experience unexplained cardiac arrest.
For every individual identified with arrhythmia, four more at-risk family members or relatives with the gene mutation can be identified, treated and potentially saved from dying from a sudden cardiac arrest.
Family members found to be at risk can then be given preventive treatments such as beta blocker pills or implantable defibrillators.
By studying these patients, Dr. Krahn is also hoping to uncover the DNA sequences responsible for the abnormalities, which can be used in diagnosis and risk prediction.
The aim is to better understand inherited electrical abnormalities, detect these conditions in vulnerable family members and protect them from sudden death.
- Family history can double your risk of heart disease and stroke. Know your risk.