Male Genes May Explain Higher Heart Disease Risk

By GINA KOLATA, The New York Times

Although heart disease is the leading killer of women as well as of men, two heart disease patients out of every three are male, and heart disease strikes men 10 to 15 years earlier than it does women. No one really knows why.

Now, a new study reports that part of the answer may lie on the Y chromosome, the one chromosome unique to men.

In the study, published on Wednesday in The Lancet, researchers found that nearly all British men have one of two variants of a cluster of genes on their Y chromosome. Those with one of the variants had a 50 percent increased risk of heart disease compared with men with the other variant. This risk was independent of traditional factors like cholesterol, smoking and diabetes.

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