Genetic Research Promises Heart Breakthroughs

Tuesday, 26 Nov 2013 03:10 PM

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Scientists from two landmark heart-disease studies are joining forces to enlist genetics in the war on heart disease, the leading cause of death in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal reports. 

Genetics advances have had a big impact on cancer treatment and heart-disease specialists are hoping to use similar developments to better predict and prevent heart attack or stroke.
Daniel Jones, M.D., a co-collaborator in the new genetics initiative and chancellor of the University of Mississippi and former principal investigator of the 15-year-old Jackson Heart Study, told the WSJ he believes the effort could lead to major advances in standard care for heart patients.
"There's a promise of new treatments with this research," he said, adding that prevention efforts also could improve with the help of genetics research.
For example, only about half of the 75 million Americans with high blood pressure can control it with medication. But researchers hope genetic and other information might enable doctors to identify subgroups of hypertension that respond to specific treatments and target patients with an appropriate therapy.
Also collaborating on the genetics project are researchers involved with the 65-year-old Framingham Heart Study, which has linked heart disease to such factors as smoking, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol.
Exactly how the collaboration, announced last week, will proceed hasn't been decided, but leaders of the effort have discussed doing genetics analysis of the more than one million blood and other biological samples gathered during checkups of Framingham study participants going back more than a half century.
Heart disease is linked to about 800,000 deaths a year in the U.S. A quarter of those deaths could have been avoided, including more than 112,300 deaths among people younger than 65, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


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