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Genes Tie Blood Fat to Heart Disease
Date:5/6/2010

Mutation can increase risk by up to 40 percent, researchers say

THURSDAY, May 6 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have long debated the role triglyceride levels might play in heart disease, and finally they have genetic evidence linking high concentrations of the blood fat to an increased risk of heart trouble.

Until now, cholesterol levels were the key targets of heart disease prevention efforts, but experts say a new report in the May 8 issue of The Lancet may revise that thinking.

Triglycerides, a major source of human energy, are produced by the liver or derived from foods. "Despite several decades of research, it has remained uncertain whether raised levels of triglyceride can cause heart disease," said lead researcher Nadeem Sarwar, a lecturer in cardiovascular epidemiology at the University of Cambridge in England.

"We found that people with a genetically programmed tendency for higher triglyceride levels also had a greater risk of heart disease," Sarwar said. "This suggests that triglyceride pathways may be involved in the development of heart disease."

To explore a genetic link between triglycerides and heart disease, Sarwar's team collected data on 302,430 people who participated in 101 studies. "We employed novel genetic approaches -- so-called 'Mendelian randomization analysis,'" he said.

Specifically, the researchers looked at mutations in the apolipoprotein A5 gene, a known determinant of triglyceride concentrations. They found that for every copy of the variant, there was a 16 percent increase in triglyceride concentrations, so two copies increased triglyceride levels 32 percent.

People with two such variants had a 40 percent increased risk of developing heart disease, the researchers calculated.

Although these genetic findings indicate a causative role for triglyceride pathways in the development of heart disease, they do not replace the need for lar
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