• genetics;
  • congenital cardiovascular malformations;
  • inherited cardiomyopathy;
  • congenital arrhythmias;
  • aortic aneurysm

Cardiovascular disease is a leading cause of mortality worldwide. While the etiology for the majority of cardiovascular disease is presumed to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors, developments in understanding the basic biology of cardiac disorders have been greatly advanced through discoveries made studying heart diseases that exhibit Mendelian forms of inheritance. Most of these diseases primarily affect children and young adults and include cardiomyopathies, arrhythmias, aortic aneurysms, and congenital heart defects. The discovery of the genetic etiologies for these diseases have had significant impact on our understanding of more complex forms of cardiovascular disease and in some cases have led to novel diagnostic and treatment modalities. In this review, we will summarize these seminal genetic discoveries, highlighting a few that have resulted in significant impact on human disease, and discuss the potential utility of studying Mendelian-inherited heart disease with the development of new genetic technologies and our increased understanding of the human genome.