Repairing Hearts with Stem Cells
Reported July 15, 2011
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Do you ever wonder what illnesses you might inherit from
your parents? According to a new study, people are significantly more likely to
inherit a predisposition to heart attack than to stroke.
"We found that the association between one of your parents having a heart attack
and you having a heart attack was a lot stronger than the association between
your parent having a stroke and you having a stroke. That suggests the
susceptibility to stroke is less strongly inherited than the susceptibility to
heart attack,” Peter M. Rothwell, M.D., Ph.D., senior author, and professor of
clinical neurology at Oxford University in England, was quoted saying.
Even when the researchers analyzed patients’ siblings as well as parents, they
found the same result: Family history proved a stronger risk predictor for heart
attack than for stroke.
"We had found previously that much of the heritability of stroke is related to
the genetics of high blood pressure, which doesn't seem to be the case for heart
attack," Dr. Rothwell said. Hypertension, or high blood pressure, appears to be
closely related with stroke rather than heart attack, which is why a family
history of hypertension is related to a higher risk of stroke.
The study began in 2002 to study strokes, heart attacks and other acute vascular
events. The researchers used data from 906 patients with acute heart ailments
and 1,015 patients who suffered acute cerebral events. The team found that in
the heart patients, 30 percent had one parent who'd had a heart attack, 21
percent had at least one sibling who had suffered a heart attack. Seven percent
had two or more siblings who had heart attacks and 5 percent had two parents
with heart attack.
Among the patients with a stroke or transient ischemic attacks (TIAs), which are
often called mini-strokes or warning strokes, 21 percent had one parent who had
a stroke, and 2 percent had two parents with stroke. Eight percent had at least
one sibling with a stroke and 14 percent had at least two siblings with stroke.
The risk of a sibling developing acute heart problems was similar for those with
heart attack or stroke. The risk for an acute cardiac event was six times
greater if both parents had suffered a heart attack and one-and-a-half times
greater if one parent had a heart attack. In contrast, the likelihood of stroke
did not change significantly with parents' stroke history.
Dr. Rothwell believes the findings hold two implications, "First, the way
physicians predict the odds of a healthy person suffering a heart attack or
stroke needs refining. Currently, most risk models lump a patient's family
history of stroke and heart attack together. We probably should model family
history of stroke and heart attack separately in the future,” he said.
He noted, the study also indicates that using the same criteria to predict both
medical events overestimates the risk of stroke. "The knowledge of genetic
factors in stroke lags behind that in coronary artery disease. The discovery
that genes play a significantly smaller role in stroke could mean that genetic
studies of stroke may not be critical to the field,” Dr. Rothwell said.
SOURCE: Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, July 27, 2011