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Saturday 15th June 2019

Heart disease protection gene found

1st February 2011

Researchers have found a gene that helps prevent heart disease among the African-American population.


About 25% of African-Americans have the gene, known as CDKN2B, and some people even have two copies of it, giving them an even lower risk of cardiovascular illness.

People who have one copy of the gene have, on average, five times less risk of getting heart attacks or clogged arteries, while people with two copies of the gene have a 10% lower risk than their African-American peers.

In the study, about one quarter of the subjects had one copy of CDKN2B, while a much smaller percentage had two copies.

Researcher Diane Becker, of Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore in the US, said that the study gave scientists the first confirmed protective hereditary link to cardiovascular disease among African-Americans.

Other studies have focused on prevalence of the same gene among Japanese, South Korean, and European people.

Certain mutations of the gene increase people's stroke risk, however.

Researchers showed that Swedish people from a separate study had higher blood pressure, due to a mutation on CDKN2B.

For the study, the research team examined 548 people whose brothers and sisters had cases of heart disease.

The researchers made gene sequences, and followed the 548 people for 17 years.

The researchers also noticed certain types of mutations, known as single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNP), on a gene found in heart disease patients in Korea and Italy.

The researchers said that it would make sense to test people for one or more copies of the gene, when genetic tests became more widespread.

Currently, the cost of gene sequencing is still too high for the public to rely on it as a health measure, but the cost is getting smaller all the time.

Several years ago, the US government approved a heart drug marketed specifically to African-Americans, in whom it was more effective, known as BiDil.


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