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Heart Attack Risk For Women May Be Set Before She Is Born
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Heart Attack Risk for Women May Be Set Before She is Born

February is National Go Red for Women month, dedicated to teaching women about their risk for heart disease, how their heart attack symptoms differ from a man's and what her risk factors are. Most importantly, it helps women to learn how to reduce some but not all of those risk factors. A new study has revealed though that some of the risk factors that a woman faces may not be changeable and are present before she has even been born. Those changes are caused by events while she is in the womb and may leave a particular genetic signature that ups her risk of a heart attack. That study may help scientists start understanding how heart disease in women develops and progresses.

Bas Heijmans,u sa molecular epidemiologist working at the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands led the research team and is the senior author of the findings which will be published in the next International Journal of Epidemiology.

The study, which featured over sixteen hundred women, between the ages of seventy and eighty two, lasted over three years. None of the women were diagnosed as having had a heart attack before the study began, three years into the study, 122 had. The researchers used those women to compare DNA against a select group of women who were similar by age group but had not had a heart attack. Heijmans found that certain changes, called epigenetic changes in certain genes raised the risk of heart attack. Six genes, all typically altered during pregnancy were found to play a role, adding a chemical signature to that specific section of the DNA sequence. Of those six genes, two are already known to be connected to an elevated risk of heart attack and other heart disease in women. In women who had this change signature on one of those two particular genes, the risk of having a heart attack during their life was increased by nearly three times. However, a woman who had changes in both of those genes, the risk went up dramatically, nearly nine times as high than a woman who did not have any of these changes.

Epigenetic changes typically are caused when the women's body is under some type of stress during the pregnancy. For instance, if she is not getting enough nutrients in her system, the growing fetus will also be deprived at a key moment of development, leading to these genetic changes and increasing her risk of diseases and other issues later in life.

There is no evidence that these genetic changes are seen in men, another mystery in the difference between men and women and heart attack risk.


Street Talk

Very interesting article Amie.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Thanks.

Reply
  about 7 years ago

Very good and informative article. Keep it up

Reply
  about 7 years ago
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