Study: Genetic variants increase risk of heart disease
Six new genetic variants have been confirmed as increasing the likelihood of developing coronary artery disease, according to recently published research.
The study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, concluded that changes in DNA on chromosomes two, six, 10 and 15, and two on chromosome one were associated with increased risk of developing coronary artery disease and heart attacks. The study also confirmed the importance of a variant on chromosome nine.
There were two studies - the Wellcome Trust Case Control Consortium (WTCCC) and a German Myocardial Infarction Family Study - that found the association of chromosome nine with coronary artery disease was "the strongest found" in both studies. "The evidence of association is strong, the risk variant is common, and each copy of the viable DNA codings substantially increases the probability of the disease. These findings unequivocally demonstrate a major genetic risk variant," the report found.
Professor Nilesh Samani, British Heart Foundation chair of cardiology at the University of Leicester and lead author of the study, said: "We are not talking about rare genetic variants here but variants that are very common in our population. They are clearly very important and explain a significant proportion of the heart attacks that occur."
However, even if a person carries one or more of the risk variants, they can still do a lot to reduce their risk by adopting a healthy lifestyle, not smoking and ensuring they are treated if they have high blood pressure or raised cholesterol levels, Samani said.
"Coronary artery disease and its main complication, myocardial infarction, are leading causes of death and disability worldwide. Lifestyle and environmental factors play an important role in their development," the study stated. These complex diseases also cluster in families, suggesting a substantial genetic cause.
Heart disease is the UK's largest killer, accounting for 105,000 deaths a year.
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