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Romano-Ward syndrome
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Romano-Ward syndrome

Reviewed April 2006

What is Romano-Ward syndrome?

Romano-Ward syndrome is a condition that causes a disruption of the heart's normal rhythm (arrhythmia). This disorder is a form of long QT syndrome, which is a heart condition that causes the heart (cardiac) muscle to take longer than usual to recharge between beats. The irregular heartbeats can lead to fainting (syncope) or cardiac arrest and sudden death.

How common is Romano-Ward syndrome?

Romano-Ward syndrome is the most common form of inherited long QT syndrome, affecting an estimated 1 in 7,000 people worldwide. The disorder may actually be more common than this estimate, however, because some people never experience any symptoms associated with arrhythmia and therefore may not have been diagnosed.

What genes are related to Romano-Ward syndrome?

Mutations in the KCNE1, KCNE2, KCNH2, KCNQ1, and SCN5A genes cause Romano-Ward syndrome.

The ANK2 gene is associated with Romano-Ward syndrome.

The KCNE1, KCNE2, KCNH2, KCNQ1, and SCN5A genes provide instructions for making proteins that act as channels across the cell membrane. These channels transport positively charged atoms (ions), such as potassium and sodium, into and out of cells. In cardiac muscle, ion channels play critical roles in maintaining the heart's normal rhythm. Mutations in any of these genes alter the structure or function of these channels, which changes the flow of ions between cells. A disruption in ion transport alters the way the heart beats, leading to the abnormal heart rhythm characteristic of Romano-Ward syndrome.

Unlike most genes related to Romano-Ward syndrome, the ANK2 gene does not provide instructions for making an ion channel. The ANK2 protein, ankyrin-2, ensures that certain other proteins (particularly ion channels) are inserted into the cell membrane appropriately. A mutation in the ANK2 gene likely alters the flow of ions between cells in the heart, which disrupts the heart's normal rhythm. ANK2 mutations can cause a variety of heart problems, including the irregular heartbeat often found in Romano-Ward syndrome. It is unclear whether mutations in the ANK2 gene cause Romano-Ward syndrome or lead to another heart condition with some of the same signs and symptoms.

Read more about the ANK2, KCNE1, KCNE2, KCNH2, KCNQ1, and SCN5A genes.

How do people inherit Romano-Ward syndrome?

This condition is typically inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to cause the disorder. In most cases, an affected person inherits the mutation from one affected parent. A small percentage of cases result from new mutations in one of the genes described above. These cases occur in people with no history of Romano-Ward syndrome in their family.

Where can I find information about treatment for Romano-Ward syndrome?

These resources address the management of Romano-Ward syndrome and may include treatment providers.

You might also find information on treatment of Romano-Ward syndrome in Educational resources and Patient support.

Where can I find additional information about Romano-Ward syndrome?

You may find the following resources about Romano-Ward syndrome helpful. These materials are written for the general public.

You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.

What other names do people use for Romano-Ward syndrome?

  • RWS
  • Ward-Romano Syndrome
  • WRS

What if I still have specific questions about Romano-Ward syndrome?

Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?

What glossary definitions help with understanding Romano-Ward syndrome?

arrhythmia ; atom ; autosomal ; autosomal dominant ; cardiac ; cardiac arrest ; cell ; cell membrane ; channel ; fainting ; gene ; ions ; ion transport ; long QT syndrome ; LQTS ; mutation ; new mutation ; potassium ; protein ; sign ; sodium ; symptom ; syncope ; syndrome

You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.

References (6 links)


The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.

Reviewed: April 2006
Published: January 23, 2009