By Dr. Brian McDonough, Medical Editor
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Sometimes there are studies that confirm what we have known for decades, if not centuries.
I don’t think it is a stretch to suggest that we have known for a very long time that heart disease runs in families. In fact one of the risk factors we always talk about is understanding that you need to be careful about your heart if there is a history of heart attacks in the family.
This is why last week’s news from the University of Leicester in England was not surprising. They found that an increased risk for coronary artery disease can be passed genetically from father to son on the male Y chromosome. The Y chromosome is a part of DNA present only in men.
The researchers looked at DNA from more than 3,000 biologically unrelated men in the United Kingdom and found that 90 percent had variants of Y chromosomes belonging to one of two major groups — haplogroup i and haplogroup r1b1b2.
Men with a Y chromosome from haplogroup i have a 50 percent higher risk of coronary artery disease than other men, and that risk is independent of risk factors such as smoking, high blood pressure and high cholesterol, the researchers found.
In case you are wondering, two out of ten men in Britain have that haplogroup.