Genetic risk factors do have a significant influence on the survival of patients after acute coronary events, told Dr. Barry R. Palmer from University of Otago, New Zealand. Coupling tests for specific genetic polymorphisms with those for cardiac function allows identification of groups of patients who are at extremely high risk of recurrent cardiac events or death.

Dr. Palmer and team examined 901 post-myocardial infarction patients to find the impact of the G-866A polymorphism in the UCP2 gene on 5-year survival.

The researchers reported that previously, G-866A polymorphism was linked to future risk of coronary heart disease events and with elevated markers of oxidative stress.

The authors explained that in 410 patients, UCP2 G-866A genotype was not associated with survival in the overall cohort. But survival rates were significantly worse in type 2 diabetic patients with AA or GA genotype than did diabetic patients with GG genotype.

Myeloperoxidase levels were significantly high in diabetic patients with at least one A allele than did their GG counterparts, while this was apparent only among male patients.

This study, along with several others we have published over the last few years, shows it is possible to use genetic markers to identify heart patients who are at high risk of poor outcome after acute coronary events, Dr. Palmer said. This might be applied in the clinic by subjecting the high-risk group(s) to more frequent follow-up clinic visits or more aggressive drug treatment than those of lower genetic risk.