"What is really exciting is that the expression of these genes is also related to the degree of stenosis, or blockage of the arteries," study author Dr. William E. Kraus, a member of the Duke University Heart Center, said in a news release from the university. "This means that a blood test based on these genes could tell us not only if someone has coronary artery disease but also how bad the blockage in their arteries really is."
Another report in the same issue of the journal described an association between a specific genetic location and the risk of abdominal aortic aneurysm, the abnormal ballooning and weakening of an artery in the abdomen.
"We're not trying to find a genetic test for aneurysm," said study author Dr. Matthew Bown, a lecturer in surgery at the University of Leicester in England. "We're trying to find out what is the cause of aneurysm, so we can find a better treatment."
In the study, the gene was found in 53 percent of 899 people with aneurysms and 47 percent of those without the condition, so "if you have the gene, it doesn't mean much for you as an individual," Bown said. "But genes close to this marker may be related to what causes aneurysm."
Some questions about the genetics of heart disease are answered by Brigham and Women's Hospital.
SOURCES: Ramachandran S. Vasan, M.D., professor, medicine, Boston University School of Medicine; Steven Rosenberg, Ph.D, chief scientific officer, CardioDx, Palo Alto, Calif.; Matthew Bown, M.D., lecturer, surgery, University of Leicester, England; October 2008 Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics
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