Study links three genes to premature heart attacks

Tuesday, November 27, 2001

DALLAS -- Scientists say they have found evidence linking three genes to premature heart disease in what could be a step toward a better screening procedure for families at risk.

Using a new technique called high throughput microarray genotyping, the researchers found three genes that produce thrombospondin. The protein governs blood's ability to clot, a factor in heart disease.

The study in today's issue of the journal Circulation found that families with a variant of a gene called thrombospondin-4 were 89 percent more likely to have a premature heart attack compared with those who had a normal gene of the same type.

Researchers also found that a variant of the gene thrombospondin-1 was 10 times more likely to form blood clots, while a variant of another gene -- thrombospondin-2 -- actually reduced the risk of heart attack by 69 percent.

Dr. Eric Topol, the study's author and a chairman of cardiovascular medicine at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation, said the study was just a first step in the quest to find the root causes of heart disease.

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