Men represent about two-thirds of heart disease sufferers, and a new study offers a possible hint as to why—men with a certain genetic ancestry were 50% more likely to be afflicted. The study analyzed 3,233 white UK men and examined their male Y chromosomes, which are passed down from dad. Up to 20% of the men belonged to "haplogroup I," one of 13 known ancient ancestry branches, and that group's risk was drastically higher, Scientific American reports.
The findings, with their emphasis on heredity, could help explain why some men who follow all the right advice on healthy living come down with heart disease, while others who ignore all that advice skate by, notes the New York Times. Researchers caution that much more research needs to be done, but one unaffiliated with the study called the findings "exciting" because they offer "a whole different perspective on some risk factors." The results could lead to screening tests to identify those most vulnerable. (Read more scientific study stories.)