More than 2,000 people will be enrolled in ahunt for the genetic causes that underlie "early"heart attacks that strike men and women in middleage. The study is part of the research program ofthe Starr Center for Human Genetics at TheRockefeller University in New York City.
"Finding the genes that contribute to heartattacks is the first step towards developing bettermethods for the prevention, early diagnosis andtreatment for this disease that is single largestkiller of American men and women," says Jan L.Breslow, M.D., head of The Rockefeller University'sLaboratory of Biochemical Genetics and Metabolismand the immediate past-president of the AmericanHeart Association (AHA).
Nearly 57.5 million Americans have one or moretypes of cardiovascular disease, which includesheart attacks, high blood pressure and stroke,according to the AHA. Heart attacks, which claimedmore than 487,000 lives in 1994, cause one in every4.7 American deaths. People younger than 65account for 45 percent of heart attacks.
"We have good evidence that heart disease,including heart attacks, runs in families. Heartattacks result from a person's complex geneticmakeup and his or her interactions with theenvironment including what he or she eats, how muchhe or she exercises and if he or she smokes. Whilewe know a great deal about the influence of diet,exercise and cigarettes on heart disease, we do notyet know the identity of genes that would explainsusceptibility to heart attacks," explainscoinvestigator Elizabeth De Oliveira e Silva, M.D.,research associate at Rockefeller.
To locate and determine the structure andfunction of one or more genes involved in heartattacks, the scientists will examine blood samplesand medical histories of 2,000 people who haveheart attacks at an early age. Because heartdisease is likely to have various genetic causes,enrolling such a large study population will helpthe scientists hunt for several genes at the sametime, notes Breslow, Frederick Henry LeonhardtProfessor and a senior physician at The RockefellerUniversity Hospital.
Specifically, they will recruit:
… men who had a first heart attack before age45 and women, before age 55.
… men who had a first heart attack before age55 and have a living sibling who has had a firstheart attack before 55 (brothers) or before 65(sisters).
… women who had a first heart attack beforeage 65 and have a living sibling who had a firstheart attack before 55 (brothers) or before 65(sisters).
People interested in enrolling asparticipants should call Mary Lou Klimek,M.A., R.N. at 1-888-920-9100 or 212-327-7445for more information. All information is keptconfidential. People accepted into the study willbe offered free blood cholesterol and lipoproteinanalysis and information about modifying theirrisks of having a heart attack.
Participants will not need to come to theuniversity for the study. The scientists will makearrangements to receive patient's medical historiesand have samples of their blood analyzed at theRockefeller University Hospital, the oldesthospital in the United States devoted solely toexperimental medicine. Established in 1910, thehospital links laboratory investigations withbedside observations to provide a scientific basisfor disease detection, prevention and treatment.This special hospital environment served as themodel for the Warren G. Magnuson Clinical Center,opened at the National Institutes of Health in1953, and similar facilities supported by federalfunding at more than 75 medical schools in theUnited States.
Rockefeller University began in 1901 as theRockefeller Institute for Medical Research, thefirst U.S. biomedical research center. Rockefellerfaculty members have made significant achievements,including the discovery that DNA is the carrier ofgenetic information and the launching of thescientific field of modern cell biology. Theuniversity has ties to 19 Nobel laureates,including the president, Torsten N. Wiesel, M.D.,who received the prize in 1981. In addition to theStarr Center for Human Genetics, the universityrecently created centers to foster research ofAlzheimer's Disease, of biochemistry and structuralbiology, of sensory neurosciences and of the linksbetween physics and biology.
The above story is based on materials provided by The Rockefeller University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.
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