Scientists uncover contributor to heart attack, stroke

Researchers are beginning to put their finger on what may be causing heart attack and stroke in people with few or no conventional risk factors. But they’re still figuring out what to do about it, The New York Times reports.

An accumulation of mutated stem cells in bone marrow increases a person’s risk of dying within a decade by 40 or 50 percent, often from heart attack or stroke, according to The Times. And the likelihood of developing this condition—called clonal hematopoiesis of indeterminate potential (CHIP)—increases with age.

“It is beginning to appear that there are only two types of people in the world: those that exhibit clonal hematopoiesis and those that are going to develop clonal hematopoiesis,” Kenneth Walsh, the director of the hematovascular biology center at the University of Virginia School of Medicine, told The Times.

Introducing the CHIP mutation into mice accelerated the process of atherosclerosis and humans with CHIP had double the risk of coronary heart disease and four times the risk of myocardial infarction, according to a 2017 study in The New England Journal of Medicine.

One cardiologist told The Times CHIP is the most important discovery in the field since statins and said he would begin studying the phenomenon in his research lab.

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