Indians, Sri Lankans at risk from South Asian heart disease gene: study

PARIS, January 18, 2009 (AFP) – Tens of millions of people from the Indian subcontinent are destined to suffer heart disease due to a single genetic mutation, according to a study released Sunday. The wayward gene, found almost exclusively among the more than 1.5 billion people in or from South Asia, is almost guaranteed to lead to heart trouble, usually later in life, the researchers reported.

Four percent of the region’s population — some 60 million people — carry the mutation, concludes the study, published in Nature Genetics.

Scientists have long suspected that India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and probably Bangladesh carry an outsized share of the global burden of heart disease.

One recent study predicts that by the end of this year India alone will account for 60 percent of the world’s heart-related problems, which can have both lifestyle and genetic origins.

The new research by an international team of 25 scientists and doctors from four countries provides a partial answer as to why this is so: an unexpectedly common defect in a gene, MYBPC3, that provides the blueprint for a certain kind of heart protein.

“The mutation leads to the formation of an abnormal protein,” sai