Faulty gene could increase risk of heart attack and stroke according to study

2 July 2014        

Blood in test tube

Researchers have identified a faulty gene which could put people at greater risk of suffering a heart attack or stroke.

The two studies, carried out at the British Heart Foundation Centre of Research Excellence, analysed evidence from 82 different papers including over 50,000 participants.

Findings from the first study showed people carrying a variation of a protein called glycoprotein IIIa in their blood cells were more likely to suffer an ischemic stroke, particularly strokes in which a blood clot has occurred in the heart or a large blood vessel.

This risk increased in patients who carried two copies of the mutated gene but it was not linked to a higher risk of hemorrhagic stroke which is caused by bleeding on the brain.

The second study found the genetic variant also put people at greater risk of a heart attack, particularly in younger patients aged 45 and under. 

These studies reinforce the view that platelet glycoprotein IIIa is a good target for novel anti-thrombotic drugs


Professor Jeremy Pearson, Associate Medical Director at the British Heart Foundation, said: “These studies reinforce the view that platelet glycoprotein IIIa is a good target for novel anti-thrombotic drugs.

“It is uncertain whether a genetic test to detect a variation in this protein would be beneficial for patients in everyday practice. However, all patients who are at risk should be monitored to see whether or not lifestyle changes or medication have a positive impact on the more standard major risk factors such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.”