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Found at last, the rogue genes behind heart disease

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No more heart disease

Heart disease is linked to just a few rogue genes as well as lifestyle choices, landmark research into Britain’s biggest killer has found.

The 18 genes that raise the risk of cardiac problems, from heart attacks to hardening of the arteries, have been pinpointed in three studies involving hundreds of scientists worldwide.

The potential of the findings is so great that heart disease could be eradicated within 50 years, say researchers.

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The discovery, detailed in the journal Nature Genetics, more than doubles the number of known heart disease genes.

Some of the newly discovered genes affect cholesterol, blood pressure and other processes important to heart health – but how many of the others damage the heart and arteries is, as yet, a mystery.

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However, for most people, other factors such as smoking, poor diet and a lack of exercise can play a much greater role in causing heart attacks.

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This is great news and will definitely give us a better understanding of the processes and individual factors involved in the development of heart disease, but I'm expecting that it won't necessarily result in a "cure." But understanding where someone might have a weakness that could be exploited by disease or lifestyle or dietary choice could result in a much better targeted response to lower that risk.

If it were architecture and we discovered that a certain choice of wood in support beams, combined with a certain size screw could result in a split that would weaken the structure, we could find a better choice of wood. In a human body, you get what you were born with, but maybe the analogy would be that the right nutritional choices would result in less stress, conditions that would be less favorable to the initiation or continuation of that splitting.

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