Scientists Spot DNA Linked With Dangerous Heart
MONDAY, Dec. 27 (HealthDay News) -- Scientists have identified
DNA sequence variations associated with abnormal heart rhythms that
can cause heart damage and sudden death.
The international team studied nearly 50,000 people worldwide
and found variants in 22 locations across the human genome that can
effect QRS interval -- a measure of electrical depolarization in
the heart's lower chambers (ventricles).
QRS interval is easily measured on an electrocardiogram (EKG). A
prolonged QRS interval has been associated with increased risk for
heart problems and sudden cardiac death.
Among the significant findings were variations in two
side-by-side genes that regulate electrically charged particles to
produce signals that activate heart contractions. One of these
genes, SCN5A, is known to play a role in controlling how signals
start from specialized muscle cells and travel across the heart to
cause rhythmic contractions. It had not been known that the
neighboring gene, SCN10A, played any role in cardiac electrical
activity at all.
"The size of this study really gave us the power to identify many genes not previously suspected to play a role in heart conduction," corresponding author Dan Arking, an assistant professor at McKusick-Nathans Institute of Genetic Medicine, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, said in a Hopkins news release.
The study was published recently in
The U.S. National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has more
heart rhythm problems.
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