Gene Mutation May Boost Risk of Heart Arrhythmias

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Science  23 Aug 2002:
Vol. 297, Issue 5585, pp. 1252
DOI: 10.1126/science.297.5585.1252

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Researchers have already identified several mutant genes that cause rare and potentially fatal heart arrhythmias. Now, on page 1333, a team offers evidence that a different variation in one of those genes, dubbed SCN5A, might increase the risk of heart rhythm disturbances in members of the population at large, not just in those few people with the hereditary arrhythmias. The variant gene, found primarily in persons of African descent, isn't likely to cause problems on its own, but might in combination with certain medications, including some used to treat high blood pressure, that also raise the risk of heart arrhythmias.