Genetic glitches put some at risk of heart disease

London: Scientists, including an Indian-origin researcher, have discovered what they claim are genetic glitches that put some at greater risk of heart attack and stroke, a finding which may pave the way for a genetic test for cardiovascular disease.

Manjinder Sandhu of Cambridge University was part of an international team which has found 13 genetic markers which are linked to an increased risk of heart disease; using them, the scientists created a test score to predict a person`s risk of heart attack, stroke or angina, `The Lancet` reported.

In fact, they used data on 30,000 patients to create a cardiovascular risk score based on whether they carried 13 DNA markers, called single nucleotide polymorphisms.

The scientists from Helsinki University in Finland and Harvard Medical School in the US said judging a patient`s risk based on their genes was as good, but no better, than the methods used by family doctors.

And experts warn that because most cases of heart disease are caused by lifestyle as opposed to genes, the creation of a simple gene test may do little to help the vast
majority of people who suffer from heart disease.

Sandhu said: "For common diseases such as type 2 diabetes, heart disease and some cancers, with relatively small familial relative risks, it is unlikely that the discovery of all susceptibility loci genes will provide clinically useful risk prediction."

Dr Samuli Ripatti from Helsinki University, who led the study, was quoted by the `Daily Express` as saying, "Genetic risk score improved risk reclassification in participants who were at intermediate risk on the basis of traditional risk factors. Whether this will have clinical usefulness remains to be seen."