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Common genetic variation is linked to substantial risk for heart attack

Researchers at the Icelandic genomics company deCODE Genetics, along with U.S. researchers at Emory University School of Medicine, Duke University, and the University of Pennsylvania, published an article in Science today announcing the discovery of a common genetic variation on the 9p21 chromosomal region that significantly raises the risk of developing heart disease independent of other recognized risk factors, such as weight, diet or cholesterol levels.

The stretch of DNA (called 9p21) that carries the mutation is in an area of the chromosome that had not previously been identified as a gene. The 9p21 region is not associated with inherited tendencies to have high cholesterol or high blood pressure. But 9p21 is found near two genes called CDKN2A and CDKN2B, which four international teams of researchers last week reported they had identified in their own genome-wide association study looking for genetic causes of diabetes.

The researchers found that, were the gene variant not present, there would be 21 percent fewer heart attacks overall in the population and 31 percent fewer early onset heart attacks.

The medical establishment is slowly coming to the realization that cholesterol does not cause heart disease. Inflammation causes heart disease (which is why statin drugs prevent heart attacks: because they inhibit arterial inflammation.) And lots of things cause inflammation (such as homecysteine.) Perhaps the mutation in the 9p21 chromosomal region either causes inflammation, or makes an individual more susceptible to inflammation-induced arterial blockage.


[1] Common genetic variation is linked to substantial risk for heart attack |

[2] DNA mutation causes heart disease in whites | Yahoo | Reuters

[3] The Cholesterol Myths

[4] Inflammation and atherosclerosis

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