Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States for men and women, killing more than 600,000 people annually, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Every year, about 735,000 Americans have a heart attack. Of these, 525,000 are a first heart attack, and 210,000 occur in people who already have had one, CDC says. Family history is one of several risk factors, which — in addition to lifestyle behaviors and such conditions as diabetes, high cholesterol and hypertension — include, age, race and ethnicity. ... Equally important, families share more than genes. They also often share the same environment, the same diet and behaviors such as smoking. This can complicate efforts to tease out the role of genetics, because many factors are probably involved. ... Iftikhar Kullo, a cardiovascular genetics researcher at the Mayo Clinic, agrees. “If you’re dealt a bad hand by your family, it doesn’t mean you are determined to have heart disease,” he says. “You can reduce that risk. . . . The first layer is lifestyle. The next layer is drug therapy. Risk is a scale that you can dial up or down.”
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Context: Dr. Iftikhar Kullo’s main research interest is in biomarkers of cardiovascular risk. Through his Atherosclerosis and Lipid Genomics Laboratory, Dr. Kullo is investigating the use of new methodologies in refining cardiovascular risk stratification. These include genetic markers, circulating biomarkers, and noninvasive tests of arterial function and structure.
Additional coverage: Chicago Tribune
Contact: Duska Anastasijevic