Heart 'Time Bomb' Ticking for 60M

1 in 100 have mutant gene that increases risk sevenfold
By Peter Fearon,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 19, 2009 5:50 AM CST
A mutant gene almost guaranteed to cause heart disease in later life is carried by about 4% of the population of India.   (AP Photo/Rajesh Kumar Singh)
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(Newser) – Scientists have discovered a mutant gene carried by 1% of the population which almost guarantees heart disease in later life, reports the BBC. Some 60 million people have the genetic time bomb, including 4% of the total population of India. The gene increases the risk of heart disease sevenfold, according to a study in the journal Nature Genetics.

The gene creates an abnormal protein that affects the heart muscle later in life when the body has a more difficult time coping with it. "The combination of big effects and high frequency is surprising," said one of the study's authors of the mutation. He believes it may be possible to one day treat the mutation by finding a way to postpone its effects.