Nearly five million Americans live with heart failure, with as many as 700,000 new cases diagnosed each year. In addition to lifestyle factors, scientists have shown that heart failure has a strong heritable component, but identifying the responsible genes has been a major challenge. Now, new research has identified a common genetic risk factor for heart failure in Caucasians that is also linked to kidney function. The study, a collaboration between the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Washington University School of Medicine, and other institutions, was published online this week in The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
“The big surprise is that our results point to a kidney gene, and not a heart gene,” says Thomas P. Cappola, MD, ScM, assistant professor of Medicine at Penn and a lead author on the study. “It does make a lot of sense, however. When physicians treat heart failure, kidney function is a major concern, and many heart failure drugs affect the kidney directly. Our findings show that the heart and kidney should also be considered together in exploring genetic predisposition to heart failure.”
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