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Protein Gene May be Cause of Heart Disease in African Americans

According to health blog, New Scientist, Black Americans are twice as likely to develop heart disease as White Americans, and a gene may be the cause, a new study has found.

The study found that fragments circulating in the blood, known as platelets, can form blood clots, a classic element of heart disease and heart attack, more easily in African Americans.

“Unexpectedly, we found that platelets from black donors clotted faster and to a greater extent in response to the naturally occurring clotting agent, thrombin,” says Paul Bray  of Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, who led the work. “This provides a new understanding of the effects of race on heart disease and other blood-clot related illnesses.”

For the study, blood samples were taken from 70 black and 84 white volunteers. It was found that the gene that produces a particular type of protein, which activates clotting, is four times more active in blacks than in whites.

Black people are very poorly represented in most clinical studies on heart disease,” he says. “Our findings suggest doctors cannot therefore assume that heart disease treatment studies on whites will hold true for everyone.”

An important implication, says Bray, is that we need to develop a wider array of treatments to make sure that there are drugs that work for everyone.

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