Genetics of Heart Disease

The major reason heart disease seems to plague certain families is genetics. We all inherit many characteristics from our mothers and fathers. Many characteristics are beneficial but some are harmful. In the case of coronary heart disease, specific traits have been identified that substantially increase the risk of developing heart disease. Genetic information is stored in your cells on long sugar chains called deoxyribonucleic acid (DNA). This DNA is a template for all your characteristics. The genetic information is stored on 23 pairs of chromosomes (46 total). A chromosome is a very long chain of DNA that has many genes on it. Two of these are termed "X linked" since women have two X chromosomes and men have one X and one Y. A gene is a section of a chromosome that contains the instructions on how to make a specific product, such as Lp(a). When a child is conceived, it receives one of the paired genes from each parent. During preparation for procreation, special cells are made that have only one set of chromosomes during a process termed meiosis. The inheritance of a gene from a particular parent is generally a 50% chance situation due to separation and recombination of genes during meiosis. The inheritance of genetic traits can be described in three general ways. A dominant form of inheritance indicates the genetic trait is apparent when only one gene dose is inherited. A recessive form of inheritance indicates that two gene doses are required to express the trait. An X-linked trait indicates that the genetic manifestation is located on the X chromosome. The expression of genetic traits can be impacted by environmental factors .

Genetic epidemiology of coronary heart disease: Past, present, and future : proceedings of a workshop held in St. Louis, Missouri, August 10-12, 1983 (Progress in clinical and biological research)Nutrition, Genetics, and Heart Disease (Pennington Center Nutrition Series)

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