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Partly cloudy skies. Low 51F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph..
Partly cloudy skies. Low 51F. Winds NNE at 5 to 10 mph.
Updated: September 17, 2022 @ 10:57 pm
Lucy Borkowski

Lucy Borkowski
Are you proud of your Dutch ancestry and all of the family traditions associated with the Dutch culture? It is great to be Dutch.
However, in areas where there is a large population of Dutch people, there is a high prevalence of a PLN genetic mutation, which is associated with heart regulation.
For our hearts to beat, calcium ions must be present in the cardiac cells, and phospholamban, a protein encoded by PLN, regulates calcium levels in the heart.
A recent mutation in PLN was discovered in 2010 in the Netherlands, and patients who have this suffer from heart failure, cardiomyopathy, and sudden cardiac death. 
As of right now, there is no treatment or cure for the PLN mutation other than standard heart failure treatment. Taking certain precautionary steps may mitigate the effects of this heart condition.
Medications, like beta-blockers, can lessen the strain on the heart by slowing the heart rate. An implantable cardioverter-defibrillator (ICD) can be inserted to monitor heart rhythms, pace the heart back to a regular rhythm, or administer shocks in the event of a deadly rhythm.
Similarly, catheter ablation can be inserted through a blood vessel and into the heart to treat abnormal heartbeats. These treatments and heart transplantation are some methods of lowering the additional stress on the heart caused by PLN. 
If you are interested in knowing if you have the mutation, the first step is to examine your family history.
Since the PLN mutation is a hereditary disease, an affected individual has a 50% chance of passing the predisposition on to their children.
Typically, the effect of the PLN mutation is not seen until people enter their middle-aged years, so looking for family members who passed away unexpectedly from heart failure would be a good indication you might want to seek professional guidance.
The next step would be to see your doctor, set up an appointment with a genetic counselor, and complete genetic testing. 
To receive genetic testing, a genetic counselor will help you complete analysis of your DNA. After receiving your test results, you should seek advice from your counselor and cardiologist.
If your results are negative, that does not mean you do not have the PLN mutation; you just do not currently exhibit the mutation and should retest your genes in the future. If you test positive for the PLN mutation, cardiologists recommend that you undergo cardiac screenings. It is also good to inform family members of your genetic condition as they might also possess the PLN mutant. 
Finally, it can be difficult to grasp your medical condition and be joyful about your future knowing that you live with a mutation affecting your heart.
Reaching out to close friends and relatives is another way to stay connected with people you love and remain grounded in ordinary life.
Remember, God has a plan for everything, and trusting in Him can bring joy amid uncertainty. He alone designed the human heart, and we give glory to Him every time our hearts beat.
— Lucy Borkowski is a student at Dordt University in Sioux Center, Iowa. This summer, she will work with college professors on a research project that involves raising awareness of a genetic mutation involving the PLN gene in the heart. This pathogenic variant is common in people of Dutch (Frisian) descent and is associated with cardiomyopathy and heart failure.

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