If “adventure” were a gene, John Petrick surely passed it on to his daughter, Janin.
The father-daughter duo has always wanted to experience everything life has to offer. Together, the pair has survived an avalanche in the Alaskan wilderness, spent the night stranded on a cliff and even made a cross-country move from California to Georgia.
But one thing they never expected to have in common was a rare heart condition.
Instead of putting their shared adventures on pause, John and Janin teamed up with Wellstar in different ways to manage their heart conditions. With an entire team of heart specialists working seamlessly together, the pair found the expert, specialized cardiac care they needed – and it never skipped a beat.
Discovering the “Janin Genome”
For more than two decades, John managed the ups and downs of atrial fibrillation (Afib) and ventricular tachycardia (VT) with specialists in California. But after moving cross-country to Georgia, he had to start over from scratch.
With such complex heart conditions and a more recent diagnosis of congestive heart failure, John knew he couldn’t trust his care to just anyone. At Wellstar, he soon found an expansive, multidisciplinary team – including cardiologists, electrophysiologists and surgeons.
Similarly, Wellstar would also end up helping John’s daughter, Janin, following her treatment for a severe heart episode — one that was strikingly similar to her father’s. After several spells of faintness, Janin was equipped with a Holter monitor, a wearable device that records heart rhythms.
“After just 18 hours, I got a call from my doctor’s office. My electrophysiologist was gravely concerned about the readings,” Janin recalled. “Apparently, the night before, my heart had completely stopped for five seconds. And, at that very moment, I was in a dangerous arrhythmia.”
Just like her father, Janin was diagnosed with VT and an atrioventricular block, which occurs when the electrical signals traveling from the upper chambers of the heart to the lowers chambers is blocked.
She soon got a defibrillator implanted to help keep her heart in regular rhythm. As Janin started to get back on track after the surgery, her doctor felt more answers could be uncovered. At her electrophysiologist’s suggestion, she participated in genetic testing.
At Wellstar, John underwent the same genetic testing to see if any clues about their heart conditions could be uncovered in their DNA. With just a simple blood draw, the Wellstar Genetics team can get an inside look at the hereditary markers for certain genetic conditions.
After sharing so many adventures and similar personality traits, it was no surprise when the results revealed the same exact abnormality in both of their genes.
However, the genetic discovery — playfully nicknamed the “Janin Genome” by John and his daughter — was a first for the heart specialists. While genetic tests for other heart conditions like cardiac disease may be more commonplace, testing for arrhythmic heart disorders like VT is rare.
“When we got the results, they told us, ‘We've never seen this before — such an identical test result, regarding the same gene and the same anomaly affecting heart rhythm,’” John said. “The doctors concluded there may be a genetic connection to our heart problems, and it was worth paying attention to and exploring further.”
The Petricks are now in the process of getting the genetic testing done for the whole family, so all of their loved ones can take charge of their own wellness.
“After we had our testing, it was a starting point for our family,” Janin said, explaining how the genetic testing had a positive ripple effect for her family members. “We encouraged every single one of our blood relatives to go through genetic testing.”