Heart attacks are the leading cause of deaths in both men and women nowadays but males are more prone to heart attacks than females. Also heart disease strikes men 10 to 15 years earlier than it does women. The reason for this lies in the male Y chromosome.
According to Dr. Helene Wilson, from the British Heart Foundation, the 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 also the major causes of increased heart attack in men.
In a recent research it is found that up to one in five men carry a version of the male chromosome that greatly increases their risk of heart disease. Researchers at University of Leicester have found that 90 percent of male chromosomes belong to two major groups—one of which is haplogroup I. This group increases the risk of coronary artery disease and diabetes by 50 percent. But the gene responsible for heart attacks is still unidentifiable. Also researchers have yet to find why these genes show this kind of effect.
Many heart disease researchers have ignored the role of Y chromosome, assuming it was mostly involved in determining maleness. Dr. Tomaszewski suggested that the cluster of genes on the Y chromosome of the men with lower risk of heart attack may help to control heart diseases in high prone males.
A study conducted by Dr. Daniel. J. Rader shows that the extra X chromosome in females protects them against heart diseases. But the idea of replacing the Y chromosome with an extra X chromosome is simply not possible.
Medical scientists are now looking forward to identify specifically which genes are responsible for the disease and how these genes can be modified. Gene therapy is one of the way by which these genes can be corrected. Also this discovery could help to find new treatments for heart disease in men or tests that could tell men if they are at particularly high risk of a heart attack.
Dr. Rader further says that a lot of research is still to be done on this area. Still we are in the initial stages of the discovery and the association between the gene cluster and heart disease risk needs to be confirmed by more studies.
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