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Heart attack risk could be hereditary

An increased risk in heart attacks in some males could be down to their genes.

A study part-funded by the British Heart Foundation (BHF) found genetic variations carried on the Y chromosome can “significantly increase” the risk of a heart attack.

The Y chromosome is unique to men.

The BHF says the study might begin to provide a “partial explanation” why Northwestern European men have more heart attacks than their counterparts in other parts of the world.

Scientists from the University of Leicester studied the DNA of over 3,000 British men.

The results, published in The Lancet, show those men carrying a particular Y chromosome were 50% more likely to develop coronary heart disease.

One in five British men are thought to be carrying this version of sex chromosome.

“Lifestyle choices such as poor diet and smoking are major causes, but inherited factors carried in DNA are also part of the picture,” said BHF Research Advisor Dr Hélène Wilson.

“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. 

Coronary heart disease is the main cause of heart attacks, which the BHF claims causes the deaths of around 50,000 UK men every year.

Question: Have you seen heart attacks passed from 'father to son' in your career?