Heart attack risk test developed in Iceland

Decode Genetics, a biotech firm based in Iceland, started a new laboratory test last Thursday that may help determine if a person’s genetic code will increase their risk of a heart attack.

Decode is already well-established in the field and has developed two other tests. Most of the company’s work involves the use of population genetics to explore relationships between common diseases and genetic codes. This information is then used to develop drugs, although the company has yet to release any products on the market.

In a report published in the July issue of Science Journal, Decode scientists were able to identify a particular stretch of DNA which had particular mutations in people prone to heart disease.

Decode’s research discovered that people with two copies of these mutated variations were twice as likely to suffer from an early heart attack compared to people who did not, independent of diet, cholesterol or lifestyle choices.

According to Decode’s CEO Kari Stefansson, the research means that doctors may be able to target particular individuals for early prevention measures.

Scientists with the company estimate that the genetic variation is responsible for 20 per cent of heart attacks in the European populations and more than 30 per cent of early onset cases.