Discovery of ‘broken gene’ could advance heart disease research

You might want to take a closer look at the results of your blood workup after your next physical. Doctors and patients usually focus on cholesterol, but new research, done in part in Seattle, reveals that low triglyceride levels might significantly reduce your chance of heart disease.

A group of researchers discovered four rare gene mutations, what they call “broken genes.”

“A particular gene that is involved in a type of fat, namely triglycerides, seems to be important for heart disease risk,” said Dr. Alex Reiner, a cancer prevention specialist with the University of Washington and the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle.

Specifically, people with the “broken gene” have lower levels of triglycerides and a significantly lower risk, as much as a 40 percent, of coronary heart disease.

“We hypothesize that this sort of prolonged, life-long low-level of triglycerides, that these people carry, are what’s protecting them from risk of heart disease,” said Reiner.

It’s hoped that the findings, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, could lead to new treatments for America’s number one killer.