Genetic link to dangerous aneurysms could aid future treatment

29 November 2016        

Category: Research

Illustration of a heart showing its main veins and arteries

Thousands of lives could be saved every year after it was discovered a fatal cardiovascular condition could be linked to four genes, according to Leicester research we helped fund.

A 10-year project, led by Professor Matt Bown, looked at 10,000 people worldwide and found those who had suffered an abdominal aortic aneurysm (AAA) had four genes in common.

It is hoped that the findings, published in the journal Circulation Research, could help doctors understand more about the condition, which can lead to fatal internal bleeding if left untreated.

What does this mean?

Professor Matt Bown, a vascular surgeon from the University of Leicester and the NIHR Leicester Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (BRU), said:

“Abdominal aortic aneurysm commonly affects the older population and can only be treated by surgery. Early detection is key to this condition which, if left untreated, can become a ticking time bomb for patients. Thousands of people die from burst AAAs each year yet about one in five men do not attend their free screening appointments so we can’t detect if there may be a problem.

“The discovery of the four genes, which is the culmination of more than a decade of a global research effort, could help us determine those at risk much earlier. If we are able to do this, then we could potentially save thousands of lives.”

In the UK men aged 65 or over are invited to attend a free aneurysm screening appointment.

Next steps

A new research programme, funded by us, will now investigate whether the four common genes affect the speed at which the AAAs grow.

Read more and watch a video about Professor Bown's current BHF-funded research.


In order to continue with their work, they are asking for men who have been found to have an AAA by screening to provide blood samples.

Sign up for the study