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Seminar at Heart Hospital highlights genetic disease

June 22, 2014 11:23 am

The Qatar Cardiovascular Research Center (QCRC), in conjunction with the Heart Hospital (HH), recently held a seminar to highlight Brugada Syndrome – a genetic disease which can cause sudden cardiac death.

As part of the ongoing ‘Qatar Heart Science Series’, the two-day seminar titled: “Brugada Syndrome and Inherited Arrhythmia – from Genes to the Community”, brought together local specialists and international experts from QCRC’s extensive global faculty and network.

Brugada Syndrome is a genetic disorder that is characterized by abnormal Electrocardiogram (ECG) findings and that carries an increased risk of sudden cardiac death. Particular concentrations of this condition have been identified in the Mediterranean region and in countries like Nepal, Thailand and the Philippines. Although no studies have been carried out to date, it is thought likely that populations in the Middle East may also have a heightened risk.

Although there is no cure, patients who are identified early as being at high risk can be effectively protected, through proper clinical management, medication and often, implantation of a special defibrillator. Early identification of at-risk individuals starts with a simple ECG, which can show some defining characteristics of Brugada. Genetic and other testing can then confirm the diagnosis.

Professor Josep Brugada, who with his brothers Pedro and Ramon discovered the syndrome in 1992, was one of the speakers at the seminar. He said, “The challenge with Brugada patients is that most will remain completely asymptomatic until a serious episode occurs, and that serious episode may well be sudden death. It is therefore important to identify the signature of this condition early, through routine ECG tests, which can then be confirmed by other means, so that individuals at risk can receive the appropriate care.”

Sir Magdi Yacoub, who gave a recap of the two-day event said: “The quality of knowledge that has been shared by both local and international speakers over the past two days at this seminar is at the highest level, because the speakers are the top experts in the world. The topic of the seminar is very relevant because Brugada syndrome is much more common in this community than expected; there are a lot of cases in Qatar and in the Gulf as well.”

Sir Magdi also mentioned that QCRC has recently started a project in partnership with the Heart Hospital in Doha and with the Sheikh Khalifa Medical Center in Abu Dhabi, to identify patients at risk via ECG and genetic confirmation. Plans are also currently in progress to develop a wider screening program in the community over the next year.