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Cardiovasc J Afr. 2009 Jan-Feb;20(1):57-63.

Mendelian-inherited heart disease: a gateway to understanding mechanisms in heart disease Update on work done at the University of Stellenbosch.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, University of Stellenbosch, Stellenbosch.


The presence of founder effects in South Africa for many single-gene diseases, which include heart diseases such as progressive familial heart block types I and II, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy and the long QT syndromes, afforded us the opportunity to identify causal genes and associated mutations through genetic mapping and positional cloning. From finding the genes, the emphasis has shifted to elucidating how primary defects cause disease and recognising factors that could explain the often pronounced phenotypic variability seen in persons carrying the same inherited defect. In some of these diseases, sudden unexpected death has been a frequent occurrence in young, apparently healthy individuals who had not been aware that they had inherited an underlying risk. Herein, we review progress in identifying genes, mutations and risk factors associated with the diseases mentioned.

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