Knowing that your brother or sister had a heart attack, or that a sibling suffered chest pain and was rushed to a hospital stand out as possibly the most important predictor of whether or not another sibling develops blocked arteries, which can lead to a fatal heart attack, says study lead investigator Dhananjay Jay Vaidya, M.B.B.S., Ph.D., an assistant professor at Hopkins.
Genetic factors are clearly to blame, he says, although just how that works is unclear. Vaidya suggests that genes could make these people more susceptible to known disease risk factors, or that genes could make people more vulnerable to some as-yet-unknown risk factor.
In their study, Beckers group used information collected from 1983 to 2006 as part of a larger study known as the Sibling and Family Heart Study, which involves risk-factor monitoring in 800 siblings between the ages of 30 and 60. Study participants come from nearly 350 families in the Baltimore region and were generally healthy, but all had at least one sibling with premature coronary heart disease that had required hospitalization. Half of the participants were women; 20 percent were black.
Blood tests and physical exams were conducted at the beginning of the study to assess each individuals risk factors.
Earlier findings by the team in 2005 showed that people who have a family history of heart disease needed to keep their weight down. In these families, the Hopkins team found that siblings who were obese or overweight had a 60 percent increased risk of suffering a serious heart ailment, such as a heart attack, before the age of 60.
As follow-up to their latest findings, Becker says she and he
|Contact: David March|
Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions