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Risk of the Heart

According to the British Heart Foundation, some 620,000 people in the UK harbor gene variants that place them at risk of heart disease or sudden death from a heart attack, the Guardian reports. Most people, the foundation says, are unaware of their risk.

Its estimate is some 100,000 higher than previous figures, the Guardian notes. The BBC adds that the revised number comes from a better understanding of the prevalence of such conditions.

"If undetected and untreated, inherited heart conditions can be deadly and they continue to devastate families, often by taking away loved ones without warning," Nilesh Samani, the medical director of the British Heart Foundation, tells the BBC.

For instance, the Guardian notes that cricketer James Taylor had to retire last year at the age of 26 after he was determined to have arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy, a progressive genetic condition in which heart muscle is replaced by fibrous tissue and fat, impeding its function and increasing the risk of a sudden heart attack.

British Heart Foundation notes that some genetic tests are available for people at high risk, according to the BBC.