Study: Heart disease and stroke risk factors linked by single genetic defect

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A single flaw in a person's genes may indicate a lifetime of struggle with heart disease risk factors, such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and other metabolic disorders, according to recent research findings.

This discovery could help solve the mystery of the complex genetic and environmental factors that cause a range of life-shortening disorders, according to researchers led by Richard P. Lifton of the Yale University School of Medicine.

The findings, which were published in the October 22, 2004, issue of the Journal Science, reveal a pattern in the gene sequencing of family members common to all people affected by conditions including hypertension, high cholesterol, high triglycerides, diabetes and obesity.

While the pattern of inheritance is complicated, it is known that various combinations of these risk factors affect up to a one-fourth of the U. S. population, and these conditions contribute to public health issues of heart disease and stroke.

The researchers pinpointed the defective pattern in the gene for the tRNA that transports the amino acid isoleucine, utlimately finding that this defect contributed to numerous cellular malfunctions.