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Genetic Pursuer, Unmasked

Ten close relatives of Dardie Robinson's have died suddenly, of apparent heart issues, the Wall Street Journal reports. Her grandmother died at 61; her dad at 63; an uncle at 56; and another uncle at 42, all of apparent heart attacks.

But after her 29-year-old son died due to an irregular heartbeat while taking a nap, she was spurred to find out more about what was going on.

"I have to stop this from happening again," Robinson recalls thinking, according to the Journal. "Otherwise, I'm going to bury another child."

She and her family are now taking part in a study that's using so-called molecular autopsies to investigate why people under the age of 45 have died of sudden cardiac arrest. The study, which is being led by the Scripps Translational Science Institute's Eric Topol, has examined 25 cases since its inception in 2014.

While an initial analysis of Robinson's son, Daniel Wiggins, came up empty, a second uncovered a mutation in TRPM4, which the WSJ notes has been tied to a condition called progressive familial heart block.

Robinson has been tested, too, and also has that mutation, and her cousin and her daughter are awaiting test results after seeking medical attention for symptoms like that of an arrhythmia. Robinson is now undergoing further testing and weighing whether to have a defibrillator implanted in her chest.

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