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The relationship between myocardial infarction and genetics

Heart disease is one of the leading causes of mortality worldwide. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), cardiovascular diseases, including myocardial infarction, are responsible for 31% of all deaths worldwide. This equates to 17.9 million deaths per year. 


What is a myocardial infarction

Myocardial infarction, popularly known as a heart attack, is one of the most common heart diseases and can have serious consequences for health and quality of life. There are several factors related to myocardial infarction and one of them is genetics

Myocardial infarction or heart attack occurs when the blood flow to the heart muscle (myocardium) is blocked or significantly reduced. Thus, the myocardium doesn’t receive the oxygen and nutrients it needs, which can cause damage or even death of the heart cells.

myocardial infarction causes

Causes of myocardial infarction

Myocardial infarctions can be due to various causes, but in most cases they are caused by a clot blocking one of the coronary arteries [1]. This clot usually forms after the rupture of a plaque, composed of the accumulation of fat, cholesterol and other substances, in the walls of the arteries. The process of plaque accumulation is known as atherosclerosis [2]. All cells in the affected area die and the damage is irreversible [3].  


In addition to arterial blockage, there are other causes that can lead to myocardial infarction, including the following:


  • Coronary artery spasm: This is the temporary contraction of a blood vessel that is not obstructed.
  • Infections. Some viruses and bacteria are associated with an increased risk of myocardial infarction. Some of them are the influenza, the microorganisms that can cause pneumonia or SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19 [4].
  • Spontaneous coronary artery dissection. Occurs when one of the arteries that carries blood to the heart tears, leading to a pooling of blood between the outer and inner layers of the artery.


Risk factors for myocardial infarction


Among the risk factors for suffering a heart attack, there are some that can be modulated and others that cannot. Maintaining certain habits is vital for the prevention of myocardial infarction, such as quitting smoking, exercising, reducing stress, not consuming illicit drugs and maintaining a healthy weight. However, we can’t control other factors, such as:


  • Age and gender: the highest probability of suffering a myocardial infarction occurs in men over 45 years of age and women over 55 years of age.
  • Autoimmune conditions, such as rheumatoid arthritis or lupus, are associated with an increased risk of heart attack.
  • A history of preeclampsia, which causes high blood pressure during pregnancy and may increase the risk of long-term heart disease.


Other possible risk factors for myocardial infarction include high blood pressure, elevated cholesterol and triglyceride levels, diabetes, and metabolic syndrome [2].

infarction genetic inheritance

Myocardial infarction and genetic inheritance

A multitude of studies in families demonstrate that all cardiovascular diseases resulting from atherosclerosis, including myocardial infarction, are related to genetic inheritance [5]. Moreover, heritability is substantially higher in the case of early-age infarction (men under 50 years of age and women under 60 years of age).


There are several genetic variants that increase the risk of suffering an early-onset myocardial infarction. Knowing whether these variants or mutations are found in your DNA can be key to preventing a heart attack, especially through habit modification.


How do you know if you are prone to suffer a heart attack?


To find out if you are prone to suffer a heart attack, at 24Genetics we offer the most complete genetic health test on the market. Thanks to them you will know if you are more or less predisposed to develop this and many other diseases. It’s very easy to perform: with a saliva sample our scientists can sequence your DNA and obtain many interesting results.

Our results, among other methodologies, are based on the application of genome-wide association studies (GWAS) in which, by comparing the DNA of healthy people with that of people suffering from a certain pathology, we have been able to establish genetic patterns with scientific validity that show the predisposition of an individual to suffer from that pathology. 

Consult our professionals if you have any doubt and know your predisposition to more than 200 diseases with a DNA medical test.




[1] MedlinePlus [internet]. Heart Attack – Thomas S. Metkus, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Surgery, Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, MD, David C. Dugdale, MD, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team [reviewed May. 2022; accessed Feb. 2023] Available from: https://medlineplus.gov/spanish/ency/article/000195.htm


[2] Heart attack – Mayo Clinic staff [published Jul. 2022; accessed Feb. 2023] Available at: https://www.mayoclinic.org/es-es/diseases-conditions/heart-attack/symptoms-causes/syc-20373106


[3] Myocardial infarction – Cardioalliance [accessed Feb. 2023] Available at: https://cardioalianza.org/las-enfermedades-cardiovasculares/infarto-de-miocardio/


[4] Acute infection and myocardial infarction – IntraMed [published Jul. 2021; accessed Feb. 2023] Available at: https://www.intramed.net/contenidover.asp?contenidoid=93755#:~:text=Summary-,The%20infections%20bacterial%20and%20viral%20acute%20are%20associated%20with%20increasing%20infection%20and%20bacteremia.


[5] Genetic basis of coronary artery disease -Francisco Navarro-Lópeza

a Cardiology Service (ICMCV). Hospital Clínic (IDIBAPS). Revista Española de Cardiología Vol. 55. Núm. 4. pages 413-431 [published Apr. 2002; accessed Feb. 2023] Available at: https://www.revespcardiol.org/es-bases-geneticas-enfermedad-coronaria-articulo-resumen-13029703

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