Arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy (ARVC) is a heart muscle abnormality that can lead to heart rhythm disturbances and alterations in the way the heart function.

How common is it?

ARVC affects between 1 in 2000 and 1 in 5000 of the population.

What symptoms might I get?

Many people with ARVC have no symptoms but in some it can cause symptoms such as palpitation, collapse, ankle swelling and breathlessness. ARVC is a recognised cause of sudden cardiac death in young adults and athletes.

What extra tests are required?

You may be recommended to have a cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scan to look at the heart in closer detail. Some patients require more invasive assessment of the heart’s electrical system in a procedure called electrophysiological testing. Some patients require genetic testing to identify a gene abnormality that may have caused the condition.

Will I need treatment?

ARVC is not curable. You may be recommended to take medication such as a beta-blocker to reduce the likelihood of abnormal heart rhythms. In some patients with ARVC, a device called an implantable cardioverter defibrillator (ICD) is implanted to help protect against more dangerous heart rhythm changes. Patients with ARVC are recommended to avoid strenuous exercise and most competitive sports.

Is it hereditary?

ARVC can be inherited from either your mother or father but some times it occurs spontaneously. For this reason it is usually recommended that your parents and any of your brothers, sisters or children be screened for the condition.

Does this affect my life expectancy?

ARVC is a recognised cause of sudden death and heart failure but with drug therapy and / or ICD therapy, life expectancy should not be reduced.

What happens next?

If you have been diagnosed with ARVC then a consultation can be made with your local cardiologist for you to discuss your condition.

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