Gene variant identified as a heart disease risk factor for women

July 22, 2014

When it comes to heart disease, Dr. Ross Feldman says women are often in the dark. Historically, it was thought that heart disease was a men's-only disease, however, data has shown that post-menopausal women are just as likely as men to get heart disease and are less likely to be adequately diagnosed and treated. New research from Western University published online this week in the British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology brings to light a genetic basis for heart disease in women and helps to identify which women are more prone to heart disease.

The study, led by Dr. Feldman, a clinical pharmacologist at London Health Sciences Centre and a at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry's Robarts Research Institute, identifies a common gene variant in women for the G-protein coupled estrogen receptor 30 (GPER) that makes them significantly more likely to have high blood pressure, the single biggest risk factor for heart attack and stroke.

GPER, when functioning normally, is activated in part by the hormone estrogen and has been previously shown to relax the blood vessels, and in turn, lower blood pressure. This new study demonstrates that many women have a less functional form of GPER, increasing their risk of developing high blood pressure.

The research looked at the effect of expression of the GPER gene variant versus the normal GPER gene in the vascular smooth muscle cells as well as its association with blood pressure in humans. It also looked at the frequency of the gene variant in a group of women referred a tertiary care clinic at London Health Sciences Centre. The study found that women, but not men, carrying the GPER had higher blood pressure, and almost half of women who attended a hard-to-treat clinic, where Dr. Feldman is a physician, expressed the variant. Twice as many women than men with hard to treat hypertension carried the gene.

"This is one step in understanding the effects of estrogen on heart disease, and understanding why some women are more prone to heart attack and stroke than others," Dr. Feldman said. "Our work is a step forward in developing approaches to treating in this under-appreciated group of patients."

Video of Dr. Feldman discussing the research:

Explore further: Young women with a heart attack continue to fare worse than men

Related Stories

Young women with a heart attack continue to fare worse than men

July 21, 2014
While awareness campaigns may be getting women to go to the hospital more quickly during a heart-attack, a new look at hospital data shows women have longer hospital stays and are more likely than men to die in the hospital ...

New genetic variant linked to risk of stroke and heart attack

July 4, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Researchers at King's College London have identified a genetic variant associated with an increased risk of stroke and heart attack.

No change in heart attack rates for younger U.S. adults

July 21, 2014
(HealthDay)—Despite recent advances in preventing heart attacks among U.S. seniors, those gains don't seem to have occurred among middle-aged adults—especially women, a new study reports.

Heart disease: First Canadian survey shows women unaware of symptoms and risk factors

July 21, 2014
A new survey, ordered by the University of Ottawa Heart Institute, shows that a majority of Canadian women lack knowledge of heart disease symptoms and risk factors, and that a significant proportion is even unaware of their ...

Scientists unlock gender key to treating stroke

January 27, 2014
(Medical Xpress)—Stroke is Australia's second biggest killer after coronary heart disease and a leading cause of disability, and there is no treatment for the disease which costs the Australian economy more than $49 million ...

High blood pressure during pregnancy may signal later heart disease risk

February 11, 2013
even once or twice during routine medical care—can signal substantially higher risks of heart and kidney disease and diabetes, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Recommended for you

Researchers investigate the potential of spider silk protein for engineering artificial heart

August 18, 2017
Ever more people are suffering from cardiac insufficiency, despite significant advances in preventing and minimising damage to the heart. The main cause of reduced cardiac functionality lies in the irreversible loss of cardiac ...

Lasers used to detect risk of heart attack and stroke

August 18, 2017
Patients at risk of heart attacks and strokes may be spotted earlier thanks to a diagnosis tool that uses near-infrared light to identify high-risk arterial plaques, according to research carried out at WMG, University of ...

How Gata4 helps mend a broken heart

August 15, 2017
During a heart attack, blood stops flowing into the heart; starved for oxygen, part of the heart muscle dies. The heart muscle does not regenerate; instead it replaces dead tissue with scars made of cells called fibroblasts ...

Injectable tissue patch could help repair damaged organs

August 14, 2017
A team of U of T Engineering researchers is mending broken hearts with an expanding tissue bandage a little smaller than a postage stamp.

'Fat but fit' are at increased risk of heart disease

August 14, 2017
Carrying extra weight could raise your risk of heart attack by more than a quarter, even if you are otherwise healthy.

Air pollution linked to cardiovascular disease; air purifiers may lessen impact

August 14, 2017
Exposure to high levels of air pollution increased stress hormone levels and negative metabolic changes in otherwise healthy, young adults in a recent study conducted in China. Air purifiers appeared to lessen the negative ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.