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Heart Attack Not Linked to Genes, Not Hereditary: Finds Study

Researchers have found that heart attacks are not necessarily inherited nor connected to family history and genetics, brushing aside a popular belief that they are based on one’s genetics, according to researchers at the Intermountain Medical Centre Heart Institute in Salt Lake City in the US.

The study found that those with a family history of coronary disease and those diagnosed with narrow coronaries must realize that heart attacks aren’t inevitable and they should first change their lifestyle and environment, not blaming it on their genes as many often do.

"Researchers in the past have assumed they’re the same thing," said Benjamin Horne from the IMC. "They thought that if someone had coronary disease, they would eventually have a heart attack. This finding may help people realise that, through their choices, they have greater control over whether they ultimately have a heart attack."

Horne, who is the director of cardiovascular and genetic epidemiology at the IMC’s Heart Institute, said his team studied patients with different severities of coronary disease, with without history of heart attack. The idea came when in 2008 some researchers found that genetic factors related to chromosome 9 were strongly connected to coronary artery disease but those same mutations had no connection to heart attacks.

Horne’s findings, presented at the 2014 conference of the American Society of Human Genetics in San Diego, show that the biological understanding that a heart attack is different than coronary disease, where the attack results when the atherosclerosis causing coronary disease is unstable.

The patients were identified by linking 700,000 patients in Intermountain Healthcare’s clinical data warehouse with the Intermountain Genealogy Registry, which contains 23 million individuals within extended family pedigrees, said the researchers.

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