Genetic mutations increase heart disease risk

While diet and lifestyle play a large role in heart disease, research is showing that a higher number of cases are caused by genetics than previously thought.

MIRAMAR, Fla. – While diet and lifestyle play a large role in heart disease, research is showing that a higher number of cases are caused by genetics than previously thought.

Yanice Davis first started having heart issues in 2018 when she was just 38 years old.

“I was at work one day and my heart began to beat fast and I felt like I was going to pass out,” Davis said.

A year later she underwent testing which revealed she had 3 genetic abnormalities that were damaging her heart to the point where a transplant would ultimately be necessary.

“I cried and cried and cried but thankfully the doctor was sympathetic and she said ‘We’re going to work through this,” Davis said.

“As a community, the genetic predisposition to heart failure is probably not identified as it should be it’s very much under-recognized,” said. Dr. David Snipelisky, a heart failure specialist with Cleveland Clinic Weston.

Snipelisky said if there’s no evident cause for heart failure, genetic factors certainly need to be investigated, especially when there’s a family history.

“Ultimately we know the natural progression of some of these mutations, not all, is that they could be quite progressive and that some of these patients can really do poorly in a matter of weeks to months per se,” he said.

Davis underwent heart transplant surgery in December 2021 and for the first time in years can walk a flight of stairs without losing her breath.

“Now what I’ve gone through, it’s an experience, one to really talk about, it’s a lot but I’m thanking God that I’m here today,” she said.

A study by Swedish researchers found that genetic risk accounts for 30% of all heart disease cases.


About the Authors:

Kristi Krueger has built a solid reputation as an award-winning medical reporter and effervescent anchor. She joined Local 10 in August 1993. After many years co-anchoring the 6 p.m. and 11 p.m., Kristi now co-anchors the noon newscasts, giving her more time in the evening with her family.

Veteran journalist Kathleen Corso is the special projects producer for Local 10 News.