CHICAGO -- Researchers have identified a genetic variation in some people that appears to reduce their chances of a heart attack or stroke, even in those with high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or other risky conditions.
It is unclear how common the variation is, and some specialists said it is too soon to say whether routine screening for it would be worthwhile. Other gene variants have been linked with an increased risk for heart attacks and premature heart disease.
For patients with heart-endangering conditions, the newly identified gene variant reduced the risk of having a heart attack or stroke by 67 percent, the researchers said.
The study, done in Italy, was published in today's Journal of the American Medical Association.
The variant reduces the activity of a gene involved in producing an enzyme called cox-2 that triggers inflammation, and it is much more common in people who have never had heart attacks or strokes, said study leader Dr. Francesco Cipollone.