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Genetic risk at fault for 30 percent of heart disease cases

June 18 (UPI) — While diet and lifestyle play a big part in developing heart disease, a new study shows genetics may have a bigger role than researchers thought.

In fact, over 30 percent of heart disease cases are caused by genetic factors, according to research published this month in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

“The results of this study demonstrate that the risk of heart disease is a concerted result of interactions between genetic variants and biological environment,” Johan LM Björkegran, a researcher at Mount Sinai and study author, said in a news release. “By understanding the complex relationship between the two, we’ve created a framework for identifying new risk genes in disease-relevant tissues leading to heart disease, which in turn will allow for more effective risk prediction, clinical intervention, and eventually, opportunities for novel and more effective therapies.”

Previous analysis indicated certain genetic risk codes linked to heart disease were inheritable in only 22 percent of cases.

This current study pulled vascular and metabolic tissue data from that research. They isolated and replicated 28 independent genes commonly active in coronary artery disease, or CAD. The finding uncovered an additional 11 percent risk for heart disease, bringing total risk to about 32 percent.

CAD is one of the world’s leading causes of death, as well as one of the most frequent type of heart disease. The condition creates plaque buildup on artery walls, which can cause a heart attack or stroke when completely blocked.

“A mystery of recent research was the fact that many genes contributing to the genetics of coronary artery disease affect mechanisms that were not expected in this context,” said Heribert Schunkert, a professor of cardiology at the German Heart Center and study author. “The present study leads to a much better understanding of how these genes work together in precipitating or preventing the disease.”

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