Men can inherit higher risk of heart attack from father – and can pass danger on to their sonsMen with version of the male Y chromosome, 50 per cent more likely to suffer from coronary artery diseaseEffect independent of traditional risk factors
A study found fathers with a common genetic variant are at higher risk of heart disease, a danger which will be passed don to their sons
Fathers with a common genetic variant are at higher risk of heart disease and will pass the danger on to their sons, say scientists.
A study found men with a particular version of the male Y chromosome, were 50 per cent more likely to suffer from coronary artery disease (CAD), which can lead to angina, heart attacks and heart failure.
The effect was independent of traditional heart disease risk factors such as high cholesterol and high blood pressure.
It is hoped the discovery could prompt new
treatments, or tests that could indicate those at particularly high risk of a heart attack.
Dr Helene Wilson, from the British
Heart Foundation, which helped fund the research from the University of Leicester applauded the findings.
She said: 'This study shows that genetic variations on the Y chromosome –
the piece of DNA that only men have – can greatly increase a man's risk
of coronary heart disease.
'Lifestyle choices such as poor diet
and smoking are major causes, but inherited factors carried in DNA are
also part of the picture.
'The next step is to identify specifically which genes are responsible and how they might increase heart attack risk.
'This discovery could help lead to
new treatments for heart disease in men, or tests that could tell men if
they are at particularly high risk of a heart attack.
'One of the fascinating things about
the study is that it might provide a partial explanation why
north-western European men have more heart attacks than their
counterparts in other parts of the world.'
3,000 men taking part in three heart investigations – the British Heart
Foundation Family Heart Study, the West of Scotland Coronary Prevention
Study, and the Cardiogenics Study – were involved in the latest study.
A son receives a single Y chromosome from their father, and unless there is a random mutation, the inherited chromosome should be identical
A DNA analysis showed that 90 per cent of the
men carried one of two common versions of the Y chromosomes, called
haplogroup I and haplogroup R1b1b2.
Men in haplogroup I category, representing around 20 per cent of British men, had a 50 per cent higher risk of coronary artery disease compared with other men.
It is believed that the increased
risk may be linked to the chromosome's influence on the immune system,
increasing the likelihood of inflammation, which
is known to be linked to artery disease.
It is thought that the increased risk of heart attack is passed on to male offspring, as a son receives a single Y chromosome from their
father, and unless there is a
random mutation, the inherited chromosome should be identical.
Meanwhile females receive an X chromosome,
from one of their mother's two X chromosomes and one from their father.
Lead researcher Dr Maciej Tomaszewski, from the University of Leicester said: 'We are very excited about these findings
as they put the Y chromosome on the map of genetic susceptibility to
coronary artery disease.
'We wish to further analyse the human Y chromosome to find specific genes and variants that drive this association.'
Coronary heart disease, which reduces the delivery of oxygenated blood to the heart muscle, typically affects more men than women and results in around 94,000 deaths in the UK each year.
The findings are published in an early online edition of The Lancet medical journal.