ARVD: The hidden killer

This deserves a separate blog posting. Dani Jarque’s death has once again brought ARVD/ ARVC (Arrhythmogenic Right Ventricular Dysplasia/ Cardiomyopathy) into the spotlight.
Johns Hopkins is one of the leading centers for ARVD research. The website states “ARVD, a rare heart disease, is one of the leading causes of sudden death in young athletes.”
There is research to suggest that ARVD has a strong genetic heritable component where parents with a specific gene mutation pass it on to their children. There is also evidence that it could be due to an infection of the heart muscle.
The Cleveland Clinic website is very informative and gives the following information on ARVD
A family history of ARVD is present in at least 30 to 50 percent of cases.
The mutation causes heart muscle of the right ventricle (RV) to be replaced by fat and/or fibrous tissue. The right ventricle is dilated and contracts poorly. As a result, the ability of the heart to pump blood is usually weakened. Patients with ARVD often have arrhythmias (abnormal heart rhythms), which can increase the risk of sudden cardiac arrest or death.
Symptoms include:

Ventricular arrthythmias
: Irregular heart rhythms originating in the ventricles or lower chambers of the heart – The most common is ventricular tachycardia.
Palpitations: Fluttering in the chest due to abnormal heart rhythms
Dizziness, lightheadedness, or fainting caused by irregular heart rhythms
Sudden cardiac death – can be the first sign of ARVD
Heart failure – shortness of breath with activity, inability to carry out normal activities without fatigue, swelling in the legs, ankles and feet (edema)
Genetic testing is now carried out in major university hospitals like Johns Hopkins and Harvard. ARVD can be established through medical history, physical exam, and tests (echocardiogram, Holter monitor, electrophysiologic testing, cardiac MRI, and/or cardiac CT scan).
Treatment include taking medications for controlling arrhythmias, electrical catheterization, and implanting cardiovertor defibrillators into the apex of the right ventricle.
There is a lot of information on ARVD/ ARVC on this website, including a variety of diagnostic and treatment options.

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2 comments on “ARVD: The hidden killer
  1. Shourin: Another great post. Rob Hughes in the NY Times wrote up a column mourning the loss of Dani Jarque to heart problems. But your’s gives a breakdown of the medical complexities. The question is this: why did Miklos Feher, Dani Jarque, La Puerta, Marc Vivien Foe and Phil O’Donnell all suffer from heart problems? Did they all suffer from the same type of heart disruptions?;Is it genetic in all these footballers?
    La Puerta and Jarque’s death comes at a tremendous social cost. Both have left behind women who have been and who are with child. In as much as FC Sevilla and RCD Espanyol have lost two stalwarts, two children have significantly lost fathers. My hope is that these youngsters are enveloped in a community that steps in and nurtures them to adult hood.

  2. FB, I think all these footballers suffered from cardiomyopathies, some are inherited and still others might have been infections. More work needs to be done and clubs should team up with hospitals who can carry out these tests. Its very skewed when Ronaldo has his legs insured for 94 million pounds, yet there is nothing done for the heart. Without that organ functioning well, one is royally screwed.

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