News / Health

Broken Gene Appears to Protect Against Heart Disease

Study Links Mutations to APOC3 Gene with Dramatically Lower Risk for Heart Attack
Study Links Mutations to APOC3 Gene with Dramatically Lower Risk for Heart Attack
Jessica Berman
Researchers have discovered that mutations to a particular gene can dramatically lower the risk for heart attack. Scientists are now trying to develop drugs that target the gene in the hopes of bringing down the high rate of heart disease.

Two papers published this week in the New England Journal of Medicine identify a gene called APOC3 in connection with the body's removal of triglycerides, a type of blood fat. Circulating triglycerides, if not eliminated from the body, stick to blood vessels and are stored in tissues in the hips and belly.

When elevated, triglycerides, or lipids, are thought to be a risk factor for heart disease. Approximately one in 150 people has mutations to the APOC3 gene that keep their triglyceride levels low, according to the findings of a new study.

A large investigation of 110,000 patient blood samples found those with the rare mutations had lower levels of triglyceride fats and a significantly reduced risk for the most common form of heart disease.

“We compared the heart attack rates of people who carried the mutations and those who didn’t, and found that people who carried the mutations and had the lower triglycerides had 40 percent lower risk for heart attack,” said Sekar Kathiresan, director of Preventive Cardiology at Massachusetts General Hospital and an associate researcher at the Broad Institute of Biomedical Research.

Kathiresan helped lead the study that identified four beneficial genetic mutations to the APOC3 protein.  

The connection with elevated LDL - a blood fat commonly called bad cholesterol - and heart disease is well-known. Experts know less about the benefits of raising HDL, or a blood lipid called good cholesterol, as a hedge against heart attack, and the role triglycerides levels play in coronary artery disease.

The latest study of thousands of research subjects found elevated levels of good cholesterol were not protective, while low triglyceride levels appear to be.

With discovery of the four mutations, researchers now have a target to develop a drug to lower blood lipids, reducing the risk of heart attack.

“Given that these people are naturally protected, if you develop a medicine that mimics this, then your chances of it working in terms of reducing the risk of heart attack are quite great,” Kathiresan said.

Many people still have elevated triglycerides despite exercising, eating a low fat, low carbohydrate diet and taking statin drugs. An agent that targets APOC3 may further reduce blood fats, lowering the risk of heart attack, he said.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid