Posted on Jan 08, 2014, 6 a.m.
A genetic variant occurring in a significant number of people with heart disease appears to raise the odds for heart attack or death by 38%.
Duke University (North Carolina, USA) researchers offer a potential new explanation for a biological predisposition to heart disease and early death. Beverly Brummett and colleagues conducted genetic analyses on more than 6,100 men and women who were enrolled in a large database of Duke heart catheterization patients. The researchers observed that those patients carrying a genetic variant (rs6318 allele of the 5HTR2C gene) experienced the highest rates of heart attacks and deaths over an average follow-up period of six years. Despite adjusting the results for heart disease risk factors such as age, obesity and smoking history, the genetic trait was associated with a 38% greater risk of heart attack and death. Previously, the same research team linked this “stress reaction gene:” to an overproduction of cortisol, a stress hormone that can affect heart risks, finding it in about 17% of men and 3% of women with heart disease.
Beverly H. Brummett, Michael A. Babyak, Rong Jiang, Svati H. Shah, Richard C. Becker, Carol Haynes, et al. “A Functional Polymorphism in the 5HTR2C Gene Associated with Stress Responses Also Predicts Incident Cardiovascular Events.” PLOS ONE, 18 Dec 2013.