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One in five male Brits has heart gene

Thursday February 9th, 2012

Families sometimes wonder why their men seem prone to heart disease - and new research today suggests the answer is genetic.

British scientists have found a heart disease gene on the male Y chromosome, it was announced.

Researchers found British men with this variant gene face a 50 per cent increased risk of suffering heart problems.

There is no link with blood pressure or cholesterol, according to Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, of Leicester University, UK, and Dr Fadi Charchar, of the University of Ballarat, Australia.

About one in five male Britons carries the gene variant, found in haplogroup I of the Y chromosome. The finding means it is passed from father to son.

The researchers say the finding may help explain why men tend to develop heart disease ten years earlier than women.

Dr Tomaszewski said last night: "We are very excited about these findings as they put the Y chromosome on the map of genetic susceptibility to coronary artery disease. We wish to further analyse the human Y chromosome to find specific genes and variants that drive this association.

"The major novelty of these findings is that the human Y chromosome appears to play a role in the cardiovascular system beyond its traditionally perceived determination of male sex."

Dr Hélène Wilson, of the British Heart Foundation - which as been backing the research - said: “Lifestyle choices such as poor diet and smoking are major causes, but inherited factors carried in DNA are also part of the picture. The next step is to identify specifically which genes are responsible and how they might increase heart attack risk.

"“This discovery could help lead to new treatments for heart disease in men, or tests that could tell men if they are at particularly high risk of a heart attack."

She added: "One of the fascinating things about the study is that it might provide a partial explanation why North-western European men have more heart attacks than their counterparts in other parts of the world."

New insights into inheritance of coronary artery disease in men - the role of the Y sex chromosome. The Lancet February 9 2012

Tags: Australia | Genetics | Heart Health | Menís Health | UK News

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