Arrhythmic Genotypes in Familial Dilated Cardiomyopathy: Implications for Genetic Testing and Clinical Management

Heart Lung Circ. 2019 Jan;28(1):31-38. doi: 10.1016/j.hlc.2018.09.010. Epub 2018 Oct 11.


Cardiac arrhythmias are frequently seen in patients with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) and can precipitate heart failure and death. In patients with non-ischaemic DCM, evidence for the benefit of an implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) for primary prevention of sudden cardiac death has recently been questioned. Algorithms devised to identify high-risk individuals who might benefit most from ICD implantation have focussed on clinical criteria with little attention paid to the underlying aetiology of DCM. Malignant ventricular arrhythmias often occur as a nonspecific consequence of DCM but can also be a primary manifestation of disease in heritable forms of DCM and may precede DCM onset. We undertook a literature search and identified 11 genes that have been associated with DCM and ventricular arrhythmias in multiple kindreds. Many of these genes fall into a diagnostic grey zone between left-dominant arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy and arrhythmic DCM. Genes associated predominantly with arrhythmic DCM included LMNA and SCN5A, as well as the more recently-reported DCM disease genes, RBM20, FLNC, and TTN. Recognition of arrhythmic DCM genotypes is important, as this may impact on clinical management. In particular, prophylactic ICD implantation and early referral for heart transplantation may be indicated in genotype-positive individuals. Collectively, these findings argue in favour of including genetic testing in standard-of-care management of familial DCM. Further studies in genotyped patient cohorts are required to establish the long-term health and economic benefits of this strategy.

Keywords: Arrhythmia; Dilated cardiomyopathy; Genetics; Sudden death.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms*
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac* / epidemiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac* / etiology
  • Arrhythmias, Cardiac* / prevention & control
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated* / complications
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated* / diagnosis
  • Cardiomyopathy, Dilated* / genetics
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Genotype
  • Global Health
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Primary Prevention / methods*
  • Prognosis

Supplementary concepts

  • Familial dilated cardiomyopathy