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Gene linked to an increased heart attack risk

Men who had a common variation of a particular gene showed a one-third higher risk of heart attacks, with a tripling of risk in men who also had normal weight and cholesterol levels, a study found.

If further studies bear out the association, testing heart attack patients for the genetic variant may one day identify those at heightened risk for another heart attack, said researcher Francois Cambien.

The hope is that preventive medicine may reduce the risk, he said.

But testing the population does not yet appear justified because the 34 percent added risk would be too small to make massive testing worthwhile, he said. More than a quarter of study participants from the general population had the variant, which involves a deletion of part of a gene.

Cambien, of the National Institute of Health and Medical Research in Paris, reports the work in today's issue of the journal Nature.

He and his colleagues said the variant they studied may not itself raise heart attack risk, but simply act as a marker for another variant that does. They said their results must be confirmed by further studies.

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