Twin Studies Reveal Important Genetic Factor for Heart Attack

DNA find may identify early heart risk victims. ‘Scientists have discovered a strand of DNA that dramatically raises the risk of coronary heart disease and doubles the chances of younger people suffering a heart attack prematurely. The high-risk stretch of genes is common among Caucasian populations, with up to a quarter carrying copies that boost the risk of heart disease by 40% and increase the lifetime risk of a heart attack by 60%. The strand of DNA, reported in the prestigious US journal Science today, is believed to be the most important genetic factor for heart disease yet found.’

deCODE Press Release: deCODE Identifies Novel Genetic Variant Associated with Increased Risk of Heart Attack. ‘Scientists at deCODE genetics and academic colleagues from the United States today report the discovery of a common genetic variant that confers increased risk of myocardial infarction (MI), or heart attack. The variant, a SNP (a single-letter variant in the genome) on chromosome 9p21, was discovered through genome-wide SNP analysis in Iceland and replicated in three cohorts of European descent from Philadelphia, Atlanta and Durham, North Carolina. Of more than 17,000 patients and control subjects in the study, more than 20% of participants carry two copies of the variant, corresponding to a more than 60% increase in risk of heart attack compared to those without the variant. Moreover, in early onset cases – men and women who suffered a heart attack before the ages of 50 and 60, respectively – carrying two copies of the variant corresponds to an approximate doubling of risk compared to non-carriers. The variant is estimated to account for approximately one-fifth of the incidence of heart attack in populations of European origin, and nearly one third of early-onset cases, making it the one of the most significant genetic risk factors found to date for heart attack as a public health problem.’

University of Ottawa Heart Institute Press Release: New Research Uncovers Fresh Evidence Linking Genes to Heart Disease (PDF). ‘Researchers at the University of Ottawa Heart Institute (UOHI) have
identified a piece of the DNA sequence that boosts a person’s susceptibility to heart disease by up to 40 per cent regardless of other established risks such as cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes. The discovery could help identify people at high future risk for heart disease, enabling early preventive therapies, including lifestyle changes and medication to reduce their risk. This finding may also lead to a better understanding of the biological pathways that lead to heart attacks.’



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