A study published in PLoS Genetics identifies 5 genes that are associated with developing coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart attacks. CAD is a leading cause of premature death worldwide, and the findings could someday lead to earlier detection and treatment of the condition.
The British Heart Foundation, National Institute for Health Research in the U.K., the NIH and other groups across Europe funded the study. Researchers examined 49,094 genetic variants in 2,100 genes that impact cardiovascular health. Almost 15,600 CAD patients of European and South Asian descent were studied.
Co-principal investigator Professor Hugh Watkins of the University of Oxford notes that new treatments based on his team's findings could have a significant impact on the treatment of CAD. "Although the effects of the new genetic variants that we have identified are individually small, in the order of 5-10% per copy, new treatments that are developed on the basis of the findings could have a much broader effect, as we have learned, for example with statins."
"The findings add to the growing list of genes, now over 30 that affect risk of CAD and heart attacks," noted co-principal investigator Professor Nilesh Samani of the British Heart Foundation. "The findings provide new insights into and understanding of the causal biological pathways that cause heart disease, and particularly highlight the role of lipids and inflammation."
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