Picture: A small boy with two sisters 
As they get older, siblings can
help detecting heart disease
risk; © SXC

The researchers say these findings have important clinical implications as it would be possible to set up more intensive screening and prevention strategies for people known to come from families where other members had LMD. They also found that in families where two or more siblings were already suffering from heart disease, if one had LMD, the other affected siblings were over three times more likely to suffer an LMD-related recurrence.

The researchers analysed coronary angiograms from 1,801 patients from families with two or more siblings affected by coronary artery disease (CAD). They found LMD (defined as 50 percent or greater narrowing of the left main coronary artery) in 12 percent of the patients. “This reflected the familial accumulation of this condition in high risk CAD families,” explained Professor Heribert Schunkert, head of cardiology at the University of Luebeck, Germany, who led the study.

“These data suggest that, not only does LMD cluster in families, but also that the outbreak of the disease at the same location in the coronary tree relates to the genetic basis of this disease”, he added. The likelihood of a sibling presenting with LMD when another sibling was affected by the condition was 3.6.

In a parallel, prospective study, the researchers followed 1,369 healthy siblings of CAD patients for approximately five years. During this time, 79 of the healthy siblings either had a heart attack or required heart surgery or both. LMD was found more frequently in those families where the initially healthy sibling subsequently developed heart disease (13.9 versus 6.4 percent), and there was a 2.5 times higher risk for the healthy sibling to develop heart disease in families with an LMD sibling compared to families where the patient suffered from some other form of heart disease.

MEDICA.de; Source: European Heart Journal