Inflammatory Response Mediated Genetic Variation is Also Important to Detect Atherosclerosis, Heart Disease and Stroke

Inflammatory Response Mediated Genetic Variation is Also Important to Detect Ath

Heart disease and strokes are common cardiovascular diseases. They are the third and first top cause of death for both genders Cancer is in-between the two. Forty percent of all deaths, in America, are related to a cardiovascular disease mainly a Heart attack or stroke. About 910,00 people die of cardiovascular diseases each year in America. That is about one death every 35 seconds. It used to be that it was mainly around 65 years or older. Nevertheless, Heart disease and strokes around people 15-34 have increased. 70 million people actually live with a cardiovascular disease. More than six million hospitalizations in America each year because of a cardiovascular disease.


When the heart pumps blood into the arteries, the blood flows with a force pushing against the walls of the arteries. This force is called the blood pressure. When your blood pressure is measured, it is a measure of how hard the heart has to work to pump the blood.

When the arteries become hardened and narrowed with cholesterol plaque (atherosclerosis) and calcium (arteriosclerosis), the heart has to strain much harder to pump blood through them. This makes the blood pressure go abnormally high. High blood pressure is also called hypertension.

Two independent risk factors that have a major impact for Heart diseases, cardiovascular diseases, are high blood pressure and high blood cholesterol.It is clear that uncontrolled hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol, and smoking increase the risk of cardiovascular disease, the researchers say they do not know all of the predisposing risk factors.There are still many people who suffer from these common health problems who do not seem to be at high risk.

Researchers have identified a gene variant associated with the early signs of heart disease and stroke in women.

None of the more than 11,000 participants in the 25-year study has yet had heart disease or a stroke, but the signs point toward increased risk, said study author Dr. Edward Lammer, a pediatrician and geneticist at the Children's Hospital Oakland Research Institute in California.

"We found changes in two blood vessel areas," Lammer said. "In the coronary arteries, we found calcification. We also found thickening of the carotid arteries in the neck."

A buildup of calcium makes the coronary arteries less flexible and more vulnerable to damage. Thickening of the carotid arteries, the main blood vessels to the brain, can be a prelude to a stroke.

Those changes have been seen only in women. "We have no idea why," Lammer said, although it's possible that the signs of risk will develop later in men than in women.

Now, the researchers must wait to see whether women in whom the changes have been seen run into cardiovascular trouble.

They haven't so far, probably because they are too young, Lammer said. The study began in 1971 and has followed 11,377 residents of Muscatine, Iowa, since their early teens. The Oakland researchers are working with physicians at the University of Iowa on the study.

Lammer and his colleagues measured about 100 gene variants in the study participants. One of them, designated LTC4S, has been found to be associated with a fourfold increased risk of the early signs of heart disease and stroke, after adjustment for standard risk factors such as smoking, cholesterol and blood pressure levels, Lammer said.

"What's intriguing is that the gene variant we found is involved in regulating the inflammatory response," he said. "A research group from Iceland has reported that two genes in the same pathway are risk factors for stroke. This gene generates leukotrienes, chemicals that mediate the inflammatory response."

The LTC4S gene variant has previously been associated with asthma, "which in essence is an inflammatory reaction," Lammer said. "The hope is that our early results keep the finger pointed at the role of inflammation regulation as very important for atherosclerosis, heart disease and stroke."

The fact that the link between the gene variant and the danger signs seen so far is not associated with standard risk factors could make gene testing an important part of early risk assessment for many Americans, Lammer said. "About half the people in the study appear to have this variant," he said.

Lammer and his associates are continuing to follow the people in the study to check on the incidence of heart disease and stroke associated with the gene variant.

"If it is a risk factor that is genetic, we could identify the risk factor very early in life and develop interventions, behavioral changes or medications that ameliorate the risk," he said.It will be to use information about mechanism to develop better strategies to decrease stroke and heart attack risk .

Heart disease is often avoidable. Following a heart-healthy lifestyle doesn't have to be complicated, and it doesn't mean you need to live a life of self-deprivation. Instead, find ways to incorporate heart-healthy habits into your lifestyle — and you may well enjoy a healthier life for years to come.

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