Researchers have found that a rare gene mutation can significantly reduce the risk of heart diseases by around 40 percent.
Researchers at the Broad Institute, Massachusetts General Hospital and their colleagues claims that they have identified a gene called APOC3, in relation with the removal of triglycerides, a type of blood fat, from the body.
Dr. Sekar Kathiresan of Massachusetts General Hospital and the Broad Institute, who is also the lead researcher of the study, says lowering the levels of triglycerides also reduces the risk of coronary heart disease.
Coronary artery disease is supposed to be one of the most common forms of heart disease. It is the leading cause of deaths not only in the U.S. but also worldwide. Researchers say that fats that circulate in the blood stream have long been held responsible for heart diseases. These fats are of several types: LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol and triglycerides.
Per the researchers, HDL and triglycerides are related to heart attacks. However, they have an "inverse relationship with one another." If a person has lower levels of HDL, the levels of triglycerides will be higher in the body. Previous studies indicate that HDL is considered as the underlying cause of heart diseases, while triglycerides are not. However, Kathiresan and his team suggest that HDL may not be the main factor behind heart diseases but it is in fact triglycerides.
"Based on our findings, we predict that lowering triglycerides specifically through inhibition of APOC3 would have a beneficial effect by lowering disease risk," says Alex Reiner, senior co-author of the study.
LDL are also responsible for heart diseases and doctors use drugs to lower the levels of LDL in a human body. Doctors use statins to reduce LDL levels in the body; however, some people with low LDL also suffer from heart attacks.
"Although statins remain a powerful arrow in the quiver, the notion of residual risk of coronary heart disease continues to be a significant clinical problem," says Kathiresan. "Our study really reinvigorates the idea of lowering triglycerides and specifically, by blocking APOC3, as a viable therapeutic strategy for addressing residual risk."
The researchers also reveal that the discovery of the new gene mutation can be beneficiary for heart patients as it can help in the development of new drugs to combat heart ailments.