Currently, about 30,000 Canadians have unexplained heart attacks each year and unfortunately, if they have that heart attack outside of a hospital, there is only a 5% chance of survival.
In order to shed some light on what is causing these unexplained heart attacks, Dr. Andrew Krahn, Professor in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia, started a registry to collect data from individuals who had unexpected heart attacks and their families. “These are not people who have something where there is a gene in their family that causes half the people to drop dead. These are the people where there’s a, if you like, perfect storm of a bunch of little genes that are contributing”.
To date, Dr. Krahn and his team have been able to detect genetic markers for rare conditions in about half of the individuals in the registry and have been able to use this information to protect these individuals and their families from sudden death.
The goal is to eventually develop software that will provide you with your risk factor for sudden heart attack based on your genetics, lifestyle, and environmental exposures. By identifying people with high risk factors early, we can proactively start them on heart medication or encourage their families to have a defibrillator in their home.