What makes Indians prone to heart attacks?

NEW DELHI: A team of scientists from Johns Hopkins Medicine International will use a path-breaking genetic discovery technology to identify the genes in Indians that make them prone to heart attacks.

The technology called Genetic Discovery, which recently found out how siblings face similar disease risks in the US will use proteomics and epigenetics to identify the genes in Indians besides finding what makes people from some parts of India more prone to coronary diseases.

While epigenetics is the study of reversible heritable changes in gene function that occur without a change in the sequence of nucleur DNA, proteomics is the largescale study of proteins, particularly their structures and functions.

The study to be conducted jointly by the American and Indian doctors, in Hyderabad, Delhi and Chennai will also try to identify symptoms that will predict heart attacks and devise methods of stopping, stalling and reversing coronary diseases.

The team will also administer the wonder drug Polypill, containing three blood pressure medications at low dose, on healthy Indian volunteers to see if it actually reduces risk of cardio vascular diseases.

Scientists recently in the British Medical Journal had reported that a Polypill could reduce mortality due to heart attacks and strokes by up to 80%. They said the treatment was potentially cheap, with few side effects. Till date, the pill has only been tried on British patients.

The study will be funded jointly by the government of India and a private hospital chain.

Speaking to TOI, cardiologist Dr Susan Zieman and an assistant professor at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and its Heart Institute said the study will also identify what predisposes Indians to CVD - cholesterol, dietary factors, stress, exercise and tobacco use.

"This will be a definitive study to understand the risk of coronary diseases faced by Indians. The disease is very different to that affecting people in the West. While in the West, the average age of cardio vascular disease onset is 50-60 years, that in Indians is between 30-40 years. Also in Americans the disease is caused by one vessel whereas in Indians, many vessels cause heart attacks. Also, there is huge prevalence of cardio vascular diseases in India. Johns Hopkins will provide Indian scientists with the expertise to use the genetic discovery technology. Though the study will be ongoing for next 10 years, results of which gene makes Indians more prone to CVD, whether the polypill actually works and how coronary diseases can be controlled will be available in 3 years time," Dr Zieman said.

According to the team, the study will start with recruiting 500 people who have had heart attacks and an equal number of their in-laws from same sex and age. The blood samples will be studied and compared to other factors.

Source: The Times of India