Heart diseases of different kinds seem to run in my family. Should I have an echocardiogram?

My brother at 42, after passing out several times, was found to have a genetic heart condition – unicuspid aortic valve. He had an aneurysm and had it fixed with a titanium valve. We were told his condition is genetic and that is what Grandpa most likely died of in his sleep at age 50. My daughter was born with HLHS 20 years ago along with critical aortic stenosis. Are these the same areas of the heart, or am I way off? My daughter’s doctors are urging me to get an echo of my heart now.

Submitted by Laura from Lima, Ohio on 05/06/2015

It is unusual for so many ‘left-sided’ rare conditions to have affected your family (unicuspid aortic valve & hopoplastic left heart syndrome). There is not a strong known genetic link, but congenital defects such as these can “run in families.” Therefore, I believe it is reasonable for you and other primary relatives consider a screening echocardiogram.