Researchers at the University of Leeds have come up with a breakthrough treatment for cardiac hypertrophy, a heart condition which can strike without warning.
It is manifest in a thickening of the heart muscle and is generally caused by high blood pressure, but can also have genetic roots.
The first signal that someone suffers from the disease can be their death, making it difficult to analyse and treat.
The treatment focuses on a mechanism which can alter the levels of proteins which control cell size.
Dr Lezanne Ooi found that increasing a protein known as REST can halt the rise of proteins which increase the size of cells which lead to cardiac hypertrophy.
She said: "This is a significant discovery because while the symptoms can be managed, the cause of heart hypertrophy cannot yet be treated.
"This research provides the first step in the search for a possible treatment.
"The challenge is now to find a therapy that controls the source of the problem on an ongoing basis."