Heart disease is the most frequent, costly and severe complication of diabetes, affecting more than 70 percent of diabetic patients. There are geographic and ethnic differences in the risk of diabetic heart disease that cannot be fully explained by differences in conventional heart disease risk factors. Using a simple blood test, researchers at the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology have identified a gene that determines which diabetes patients are at greater risk for developing heart disease. Unlike other recent breakthroughs, such as the test for C-reactive protein, the test for this gene needs to be administered only once in a patients lifetime.
There are two forms of this predictive gene and they are present in approximately equal frequencies in the general population and in diabetics. Diabetics with one type of the gene have a five-fold greater risk of developing heart disease than those with the other form of the gene.
"If we can accurately determine which people with diabetes are at greatest risk for heart disease with a genetic test, there is no telling how many lives we could save with early intervention techniques," said Dr. Andrew P. Levy of the Technion Faculty of Medicine, who headed the research which was published in the December 4th issue of The Journal of the American College of Cardiology.
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