A German study has revealed that when it comes to heart disease, the side of the organ affected is crucial to determining the risk posed to relatives of the patient.
Healthy people with a sibling suffering from left main coronary heart disease (LMD) were 2.5 times more likely to go on to develop some form of heart disease than those with a sibling with another manifestation of the disease.
The scientists also found that where two or more siblings were suffering from heart disease, if one had LMD, the other affected siblings were more than three times more likely to suffer an LMD-related recurrence.
Professor Heribert Schunkert said: "This knowledge of coronary morphology may increase our ability to predict disease. In addition, it may help us to find susceptibility factors that underlie the complex causes of heart disease."
He added: "Sophisticated screening tests may include non-invasive coronary angiography, which could be used to identify lesions in or near the left main coronary artery. In this context, asymptomatic siblings from families with the occurrence of LMD might benefit from intensified screening and prevention strategies."
Some 1,801 patients from families with two or more siblings affected by coronary artery disease were involved in the study.
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