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Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Sunrise Senior Living Blog

Gene Error 'May Halve Risk Of Heart Attack '

Gene error may reduce people's risk of heart attack According to the British Heart Foundation, there are over 103,000 heart attacks and 152,000 strokes in the UK every year. These are partially due to high blood pressure and cholesterol levels.

A recent study by the New England Journal of Medicine found that there's a genetic anomaly in some humans that can greatly reduce their risk of heart attack or any other serious heart problems. The group of researchers estimate that 1 in every 650 people could have the gene error, which is capable of cutting one's chance of having a heart attack in half. 

Inactive gene lowers cholesterol

The research included 22,000 participants whose entire genetic codes were sequenced by the scientists. Of all the subjects, 34 showed specific gene errors. These genetic faults are caused when naturally occurring changes result in a key gene not activating.

Although most people have a copy of the NPC1L1 gene, the 34 participants who had an inactive copy of it had 10 per cent less LDL cholesterol in their system than their counterparts.

"When people have one copy of a gene not working, it's like taking a drug their entire lives that is inhibiting this gene," said Prof. Nathan Stitziel of Washington University School of Medicine, who worked on the research.

However, the small group with the gene error didn't differ from the others when the scientists compared their blood pressure, rate of diabetes and weight. This was unexpected, as these are all leading factors that are known to cause heart attacks. 

Potential treatment

Researchers are still unsure as to whether the inactive gene simply lowers cholesterol or directly protects older adults from heart attacks. 

Jeremy Pearson, from the British Heart Foundation charity, explained that the biggest risk factor for coronary heart disease is high cholesterol. It also accounts for potentially fatal stoke and heart attack. Enhanced treatments for the condition would benefit everyone by reducing cardiovascular incidents. 

The results of the study indicate that a drug called Ezetimibe has the capability to inhibit the NPC1L1 in those with an active gene. The drug is in the process of being tested in further trials.

Sunrise Senior Living care homes are home to many people who live with heart conditions that require medication. Medication management is included as part of the individual care plans created by Sunrise for each resident. Contact us today to find out more.

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