611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

Health Choice Integrated Care crisis Line

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


611 W. Union Street
Benson, AZ 85602
(520) 586-0800

AzCH Nurse Assist Line


powered by centersite dot net

Getting Started
Here are some forms to get started. These can be printed and brought with you so that you can pre-fill out some known info ahead of time. More...

Health Sciences
Basic InformationLatest News
Scientists Creating Gene Map of Human 'Microbiome'New DNA Blood Test May Help Guide Breast Cancer TreatmentFootball Head Trauma Linked Again to Long-Term Brain DamageMore 'Buyer Beware' Warnings for Unregulated Stem Cell Clinics3-D Printers Might Someday Make Replacement HeartsOne Gene Change 2 Million Years Ago Left Humans Vulnerable to Heart AttackHow to Protect Your DNA for Big Health BenefitsBones Help Black People Keep Facial Aging at BayGene Test Might Someday Gauge Your Heart Attack RiskYour Gut Bacteria Could Affect Your Response to MedsIt's Never Too Late for New Brain CellsSensor-Laden Glove Helps Robotic Hands 'Feel' ObjectsAn Antibiotic Alternative? Using a Virus to Fight BacteriaBrain Sharpens the Hearing of the Blind, Study FindsMind-Reading Tech Could Bring 'Synthetic Speech' to Brain-Damaged PatientsCan Obesity Shrink Your Brain?Will You Get Fat? Genetic Test May TellMagnet 'Zap' to the Brain Might Jumpstart Aging MemoryWhy More Patients Are Surviving an AneurysmIsraeli Team Announces First 3D-Printed Heart Using Human CellsPoverty Could Leave Its Mark on GenesNFL Retirees Help Scientists Develop Early Test for Brain Condition CTEBrain 'Zap' Might Rejuvenate Aging MemoryLab-Grown Blood Vessels Could Be Big Medical AdvanceOnly Spoken Words Processed in Newly Discovered Brain RegionSmall Trial Provides New Hope Against Parkinson's DiseaseInsomnia May Be in Your Genes'Miracle' Young Blood Infusion Treatments Unproven, Potentially Harmful: FDAPossible Parkinson's 'Pandemic' Looms: ReportScience Puzzling Out Differences in Gut Bacteria Around the World'Mind-Reading' AI Turns Thoughts Into Spoken WordsEat What You Want and Still Stay Slim? Thank Your GenesGood News, Bad News on Levodopa for Parkinson's DiseaseNature or Nurture? Twins Study Helps Sort Out Genes' Role in DiseaseBeing Bullied May Alter the Teen BrainFDA Warns Companies on Dangerous, Unapproved Stem Cell TreatmentsGene Tweaking Prevented Obesity in MiceApproach That New Gene Testing Kit With CautionResearch on Almost 2,000 Brains Brings Insight Into Mental IllnessRestoring Hair Growth on Scarred Skin? Mouse Study Could Show the WayParkinson's Gene Therapy Wires New Brain CircuitsNext for Disabling Back Pain? New Discs From Patients' Own CellsSkin 'Glow' Test Might Someday Spot Disease Risk EarlyComputer-Brain Link Helps 'Locked In' People Chat, Surf WebCould a Natural Protein Help Fight Obesity?Blood Test May One Day Help Track Concussion RecoveryThe Bigger the Brain, the Bigger the Tumor Risk?Gene Therapy for Parkinson's Symptoms Shows PromiseCould Same-Sex Couples Have Babies With Shared DNA? Study Hints It's PossibleMany Americans Curious, But Wary, About Gene Testing
Questions and AnswersLinksBook Reviews
Related Topics

Medical Disorders
Mental Disorders
Mental Health Professions

One Gene Change 2 Million Years Ago Left Humans Vulnerable to Heart Attack

HealthDay News
by By E.J. Mundell
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: Jul 29th 2019

new article illustration

MONDAY, July 29, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- As far as scientists know, humans are the only species that get heart attacks linked to clogged arteries.

Now, new research suggests that just one DNA change occurring 2 to 3 million years ago may be to blame.

The finding might give insight into how to prevent and treat the attacks, according to researchers at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). Already, they say, the findings implicate the consumption of red meat as a factor in heart attack risk.

One heart specialist said the findings are intriguing.

"There now seems to be a plausible link between genetics, diet, inflammation and atherosclerosis [hardening of the arteries]," said Dr. James Lafferty, who wasn't involved in the study. "This may truly be the missing link."

The UCSD team noted that no other species is known to suffer heart attacks due to atherosclerosis. Even chimpanzees in captivity -- which, like humans, are often inactive, collect cholesterol in their blood and can have high blood pressure -- don't get heart attacks due to fat-clogged arteries.

So why humans? To find out, researchers led by professor of pathology Dr. Nissi Varki and professor of medicine Dr. Ajit Varki looked to a gene known as CMAH. The gene's job is to produce a sialic acid sugar molecule called Neu5Gc, which in other mammals appears to greatly reduce the likelihood of atherosclerotic changes in blood vessels.

Trouble is, CMAH doesn't function in humans -- it appears to have been "switched off" by evolution millions of years ago.

The researchers theorized that this genetic event occurred because a dangerous malarial parasite recognized -- and thrived-- in the presence of Neu5Gc. So the human genome evolved to shut down CMAH and Neu5Gc production.

However, that meant humans became more vulnerable to fatty deposits in arteries, the Varkis and colleagues reported.

To test the theory, the UCSD team compared rates of atherosclerosis in normal mice, which have a working CMAH gene, and mice genetically tweaked to have a switched-off gene.

The result: Mice without active CMAH showed a near-doubling of fatty buildup in blood vessels.

That unhealthy activity rose even higher when mice without a working CMAH gene were fed red meat, which naturally contains Neu5Gc.

According to the researchers, that finding could explain the link between diets high in red meat and an upped risk for heart disease in humans. They believe that contact with Neu5Gc could set off an immune reaction in the human body, which in turn leads to a chronic state of inflammation in blood vessels.

"When the chemical that is missing from our bodies is ingested in the form of red meat, since other animals can still produce this, it seems to create an immune reaction, since we no longer produce it," said Lafferty, who is chair of cardiology at Staten Island University Hospital in New York City.

But even folks who eschew meat can get heart attacks, the UCSD team noted.

All in all, the new findings "may help explain why even vegetarian humans without any other obvious cardiovascular risk factors are still very prone to heart attacks and strokes, while [humans'] other evolutionary relatives are not," Dr. Nissi Varki said in a university news release.

Lafferty said the research may help explain an enduring medical mystery.

"As cardiologists, we are always profoundly aware that even if all risk factors do not exist humans still have reasonable chance of developing atherosclerosis," he said.

But the study also points to new hope for patients.

"There are also some new therapies that are aimed at reducing inflammation," Lafferty said, and these treatments "have been shown to reduce cardiac events, even in patients whose risk factors have been maximally modified."

He believes research like the new study "will lead to filling our knowledge gaps and lead the way to new therapeutic interventions."

The findings were published July 22 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

More information

There's more on heart attack prevention at the American Heart Association.