Genes involved in heart disease are similar in all populations, study finds

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The genes involved in coronary artery disease, the most common form of heart disease, seem to be almost the same for everyone, according to a VA study.

About one-third to one-half of everyone’s chances of getting this type heart disease is in their genes. This genetic risk appears to be the same for all major racial and ethnic backgrounds, including people of European, African, Japanese and Indigenous descent, the VA study found.

“Some groups, such as African Americans, are more likely to have heart disease, and our findings indicate this is not because they have a higher genetic risk for the disease,” said study author Dr. Catherine Tcheandjieu, a genetic epidemiologist with the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and University of California San Francisco. “It confirms that other factors are responsible for more heart disease in those populations, such as access to health care and different experiences,” she adds.

The genetic study — the largest yet on heart disease — was published on Aug. 1, 2022 in naturopathy. It looked at nearly a quarter of a million cases of coronary artery disease, including more than 100,000 U.S. veterans with the disease.

Coronary artery disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, responsible for one in five deaths. It occurs when large blood vessels to the heart muscle become narrowed or blocked, which can lead to a heart attack.

The study was led by researchers from the Palo Alto VA and involved researchers from several other VAs across the country.

Research into the genetics of heart disease, like many other areas of health research, is largely based on data from white people due to higher participation.

The naturopathy study, on the other hand, examined the genes of more than 27,000 black and 12,000 Hispanic people with coronary artery disease. Most of these were veterans, who agreed to share their genetic and health information for research as part of VA’s Million Veteran Program, also known as MVP.

Using data from MVP, VA researchers in this study confirmed for the first time that many genetic variations known to increase cardiovascular disease risk in white people have the same effect in people of African and Hispanic descent. In addition, researchers found nearly 100 new locations on the human genome where variations appear to increase the risk of coronary artery disease.

To find these locations in the human genome linked to heart disease, researchers in the study carefully looked at the genes of nearly a quarter of a million people with heart disease and compared them to more than 840,000 people without the disease.

“Ours is the first genetic study of coronary artery disease that had enough people of African and Hispanic descent to confirm previous findings in white people,” said corresponding author Dr. Themistocles (Tim) Assimes, a cardiologist and researcher at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System and Stanford University. was direct because of VA’s Million Veteran Program.”

Of the nearly 900,000 veterans in MVP, nearly 150,000 are black and over 70,000 are Hispanic, making MVP one of the richest data sources available for genetic research on all people, including people of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.

In 2007, researchers identified a gene called the “heart attack gene” that can lead to a 50% chance of developing heart disease. For more than a decade, researchers have known that this gene is linked to higher odds of early and more serious heart disease in Caucasian, South Asian and East Asian populations. But genetic studies never had enough people from other ancestors to determine if the same was true for other populations.

That is, until now.

As part of naturopathy In this study, VA researchers were able to show that the region of DNA where this “heart attack gene” resides appears to play much less of a role in altering the risk of disease in people of African descent, including a majority of African Americans and many Hispanics.

This is because the genetic miscoding, also known as a genetic variation, does not exist in people of African descent.

‘It can be different’heart attack“Genes exist in black populations,” adds Assimes, “but to find out, we need to do more research and make it a priority to invite many more people of African descent to participate in our genetic studies.’

Researchers from this study used their findings to create new genetic tests to better predict who might develop coronary artery disease in the future. These new tests are not much different from cholesterol, blood pressure and diabetes tests, except they give an idea of ​​how high or low a person’s hereditary risk of heart disease is from birth.

“The effects of this study on healthcare happening now,” explains Tcheandjieu, acknowledging, however, that more refinement is needed to fully capture genetic risk in black people.

“The best way to improve these genetic tests, also known as polygenic risk scores, is to study more people of African background, such as African and Hispanic Americans, as well as people from Africa. wrong codes genes that increase the risk of heart disease in diverse populations and allow these tests to capture that,” Assimes says.

An important next step is to see how well these new genetic tests accurately predict a person’s risk heart disease, the researchers say. The way to do that is through clinical trials, where researchers compare health outcomes for people who have undergone genetic testing compared to people who have not.

For now, this study lays a solid foundation for researchers to begin building the future of individualized heart health for everyone.


Heart attacks in women are often missed. This gene may help explain why.


More information:
Catherine Tcheandjieu et al, Large-scale genome-wide association study of coronary artery disease in genetically diverse populations, naturopathy (2022). DOI: 10.1038/s41591-022-01891-3

Provided by Veterans Affairs Research Communications

Quote: Genes implicated in heart disease are similar in all populations, study finds (2022, Aug. 3), retrieved Aug. 3, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-08-genes-involved-heart-disease-similar .html

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