Scientists determine gene variant linked to stroke and heart attack risk

4 July 2014

A new genetic discovery could make it easier to determine a person's risk of heart problems in future.

Researchers at King's College London have identified a genetic variant associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack. The team traced this effect to a variation in a protein known as glycoprotein IIIa, which is found in platelets - a type of blood cell involved in the formation of blood clots.

Those carrying this genetic difference were ten to 15 per cent more likely to experience strokes caused by blood clots, rising to a 70 per cent risk increase in people who carried two copies of the variant. It was also shown to be associated with a heightened heart attack risk.

Albert Ferro, professor of cardiovascular clinical pharmacology at King's College London, said in future a blood test could be developed for this genetic variant, making it easier to identify patients "for a more determined reduction of risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure or high cholesterol".

The study, which involved more than 50,000 people, could be instrumental in facilitating the treatment of heart attacks and strokes, two of the most common reasons why people may require emergency medical treatment in the UK.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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