November 13, 2008

Study: Genetics Can Predict Heart Problems

A U.S. study suggests identifying a single, common variation in a person's genetic information can help predict heart attack or other heart disease events.

"This DNA variation at the 9p21 chromosomal region is not a mutation; it is a genetic variant," said Ariel Brautbar of the Baylor College of Medicine, the study's lead author. "We already know that 9p21 DNA variation is associated with a greater risk of heart events, but now we have shown its direct usefulness to patient care by adding it to traditional risk factor measurements."

He said by identifying a higher risk factor, someone presenting in the intermediate risk group could be moved into a higher or lower risk category, depending on whether he or she has the genetic variant.

The study also included scientists at the University of Texas, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; the University of Minnesota and the Texas Heart Institute.

The research was presented this week in New Orleans during the American Heart Association's Scientific Sessions.