THE British Heart Foundation is funding a new study at Oxford University that could help to prevent young people from suffering a fatal cardiac arrest due to a rare inherited heart disease.

Catecholaminergic polymorphic ventricular tachycardia (CPVT) is a genetic disorder that disturbs how heart cells function.

This can lead to sudden cardiac death in children and young adults.

CPVT affects about 1 in 10,000 people across the UK, who can suffer from blackouts, palpitations and dizziness. These can be brought on by strenuous physical activity or heightened emotions, which can cause an increase in the amount of adrenaline running through their blood.

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CPVT can be difficult to diagnose, with some patients being misdiagnosed with epilepsy.

The condition is caused by mutations to a gene which makes a protein called the RyR2 ryanodine receptor (RyR2), which is found in the heart and brain.

Until recently, few scientists have studied RyR2 in the brain. Now, thanks to a grant of more than £260,000, researchers will investigate why sudden cardiac death can happen in CPVT patients.

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The study is being led by Dr Charalampos Sigalas, European Blaschko Visiting Research Fellow at the university.

He said: “We’re examining whether abnormal activity in the brain triggers cardiac arrhythmias, in the hope of developing new treatments faster for children with CPVT."