Genetic Factors of Cardiovascular Disease

As has long been known, risk of cardiovascular disease can be passed down from generation to generation. If your parents and grandparents suffered from cardiovascular disease, it is all the more important that you take significant steps to counteract it throughout your lifetime, especially once you reach your forties and fifties. Proper diet, exercise, and supplements should already be part of your daily routine.

However, researchers are finding out more and more about what it is exactly in our genetic makeup that predisposes us to heart disease and risk of strokes. Two main candidates are the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE) and the KIF family of genes that are important to making the kinesin proteins that transport other proteins within a variety of bodily systems.

The APOE gene comes in three variations: APOE3 is considered the “normal” variation of the gene and appears in about 64 percent of the populations; APOE2 and APOE4 are considered dysfunctional forms of the gene, and both of these are linked to atherosclerosis. APOE4 is found in around 25 percent of the population and is also linked to Alzheimers’ disease and impaired cognitive function. APOE2 is linked to hyperlipidemia (which is more rare and only happens in about 11 percent of Americans), a condition that tends toward higher levels of cholesterol and the other lipids that inspire atherosclerosis.

Such predispositions are not a death sentence; however, the treatment suggestions can address these. It just becomes more important to do so if you have one of these genetic conditions. People with the APOE4 gene need to be on a very low-fat diet, or 20 percent of their total calories. They should avoid trans fats and fried foods and restrict saturated and polyunsaturated fats. The fats they should choose should be mainly monounsaturated fates, such as olive oil, almonds, avocados, and omega-3 fats such as fatty fish and flaxseeds. People with APOE4 typically have an elevated cholesterol level and are at an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the KIF family gene variations, the kinesin-like protein 6 (KIF6), has been shown in three recent majors studies to have adverse effects on cardiovascular risk. More research needs to be done in these areas about how these genes actually raise this risk, but such research also shows great promise for better understanding the formation of atherosclerosis and better ways to treat the diseases in the future. If you test positive for this gene variant, most doctors put patients on statin drugs. It is recommended to add ubiquinol (living CoQ10, 100 mg a day) since stains may deplete the body of CoQ10.

Other genomic tests to see if you are at risk of having a blood clot is the genomic test for Factor II and Factor V. While genomic testing is available to see if you have these tendencies, it is still important just to know your family history and its tendencies toward heart disease. Do what you can in the meantime as more research in these areas come up with more specific treatments.

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