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Cardiac Artery Trouble Boosts Family Heart Risk
Date:10/4/2007

Relatives of those affected face higher odds of heart disease, study finds

THURSDAY, Oct. 4 (HealthDay News) -- The close relatives of people who carry an abnormality in the heart's left main artery should take special care of their own cardiac health, experts say.

Healthy brothers and sisters of someone with such problems are 2.5 times more likely to develop some form of heart disease, compared to the siblings of patients with heart disease not related to that artery, concludes a report in the Oct. 4 issue of the European Heart Journal.

"We first reported a relationship two years ago," said Dr. Heribert Schunkert, head of cardiology at the University of Luebeck, Germany, and lead author of two reports in the journal. "This time, we specifically investigated the possibility of high heritability of the condition. That was the case."

In one report, Schunkert and his colleagues analyzed coronary angiograms from more than 1,800 members of families in which two or more people developed coronary artery disease. They found that 12 percent had a 50 percent or more narrowing of the left main coronary artery. According to Schunkert, that finding demonstrated that the problem clusters in families and that its cause was probably genetic.

The second study followed almost 1,400 healthy brothers and sisters of people with coronary artery disease for five years.

A left main coronary artery problem was found in 13.9 percent of those who developed heart disease but in only 6.4 percent of those who did not. The risk of developing heart disease was 2.5 times higher for brothers and sisters of someone with a left coronary artery than in those where the patient suffered from some other form of heart disease.

"The clinical implication is that if a person demonstrates a left main coronary artery problem, siblings should know that they have a greatly increased risk of coronary artery disease," Schunkert
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