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Stress gene, heart disease may be deadly combination

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Posted: Friday, December 20, 2013 9:50 am | Updated: 10:12 am, Fri Dec 20, 2013.

A particular genetic variant responsible for a sensitivity to stress has been linked with a 38 percent increased risk of heart attack or death in those with heart disease.

Researchers at Duke University examined more than 6,100 participants, two-third of whom were men, and found after accounting for age, obesity, smoking history, and severity of their heart disease, patients with the genetic variation still had a higher rates of heart attack and death. This particular genetic variation doubles the amount of cortisol, known as the ‘stress hormone,’ released into the bloodstream when confronted with stress.

"The exciting part to me this is that this genetic trait occurs in a significant proportion of people with heart disease," lead author Beverly H. Brummett, Ph.D. was quoted as saying. "If we can replicate this and build on it, we may be able to find ways to reduce the cortisol reaction to stress – either through behavior modification or drug therapies – and reduce deaths from heart attack."

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