Heart Attacks May Not Be Genetic

   |  Updated: October 21, 2014 18:34 IST

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Heart Attacks May Not Be Genetic
Heart diseases have long been associated with the genetic-makeup of a person. It is believed that the risk of heart diseases and heart attacks runs in families.

Interestingly, researchers at the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in United States, explain how heart attacks are not just connected to family history and genetics as may have been previously presumed to be. Various other factors play a significant role in triggering heart attacks. These factors may include unhealthy lifestyle, poor diet, smoking and lack of exercise 

This medical discovery brings a sigh of relief to those with a family history of coronary disease and those diagnosed with narrow coronaries. According to researchers, the study helps establish the fact that heart attacks may be avoidable even for those with an associated family history. By being more careful about your lifestyle, you can actually ward off the probable risks.

Benjamin D Horne, Director of Cardiovascular and Genetic Epidemiology, explains "Because coronary disease and heart attacks are so closely related, researchers in the past have assumed they're the same thing. They thought that if someone had coronary disease, they would eventually have a heart attack. This finding may help people realize that, through their choices, they have greater control over whether they ultimately have a heart attack."

Horne started analyzing the link between family history and heart diseases way back in the year 2008. As a result, he found how genetic factors related to chromosome 9 were strongly connected to coronary artery disease but those same mutations had no connection to heart attacks.This facilitated in understanding how heart attacks are different from coronary disease. Heart attack occurs when atherosclerosis (thickened artery wall), that causes coronary disease, is unstable. This condition may not always lead to a heart attack.

For the study, a team of experts analyzed people who had coronary disease, whether or not they had suffered a heart attack. As a result, it was found that severe coronary artery disease can be inherited regardless of whether someone has a heart attack. However, it was seen that the presence of heart attacks in people with less severe coronary disease was not clustered in families.

According to the research team, this study can be of great significance in understanding the various factors, other than genetics, that trigger a heart attack. It can also assist in designing effective genetic studies focusing on heart attacks and its causes. Studies like these can actually help scientists identify the limited set of genetic mutations that are usually involved in making people susceptible to heart attack.

Inputs from PTI

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