Gene Inherited from Father Can Raise Heart Risk by 50%

Article excerpt

Byline: Jenny Hope Medical Correspondent

SOME men are 50 per cent more likely to develop heart disease because of a gene mutation inherited from their fathers, say researchers.

Up to one in five men in Britain have a variant of the Y chromosome that puts them at greater risk of suffering a heart attack, a study found.

The effect was independent of known coronary artery disease risk factors such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure and smoking.

CAD narrows blood vessels and typically affects men ten years earlier than women.

It reduces the delivery of oxygenated blood to the heart, resulting in angina, chest pains and heart attacks, which kill 50,000 men each year in the UK.

Although doctors often warn patients that heart disease can 'run in the family', this is the first time the risk has been traced to the Y chromosome, which is present only in men.

Human cells contain DNA packaged into 23 pairs of chromosomes. The 23rd pair, the sex chromosomes, differ between male and female. Women have two X chromosomes and men have an X and a Y.

Men inherit the Y chromosome from their fathers, but different men have different genes on their Y chromosomes.

The research involved 3,233 men taking part in three heart investigations - the British Heart Foundation Family Heart Study, the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention Study, and the Cardiogenics Study.

DNA analysis showed that 90 per cent of the men carried one of two common versions of the Y chromosomes, called haplogroup I and haplogroup R1b1b2. Men in the haplogroup I category had a 50 per cent higher risk of coronary artery disease compared with other men.

This version of the chromosome is carried by between 15 and 20 per cent of men in Britain and other areas of northern Europe. The researchers, whose findings are published today in an online edition of The Lancet medical journal, believe the increased risk may be linked to the chromosome's influence on the immune system and inflammation. …