"It's a paradox," Dr. Davis says. "It's the opposite direction you would expect given the disparities in health outcomes."
"We would have expected environmental influences to be more important in blacks," adds Dr. Snieder. "We did not find that."
What they did find they hope will provide new insight and possibly new, more targeted treatment strategies for a cross section of people with heart disease.
"What we are very interested in is how these risk factors for cardiovascular disease develop over time and to what extent the development is influenced by genes and environment," says Dr. Snieder, who plans on gathering longitudinal data on an even larger percentage of the twins he's following.
"Even having these genes doesn't make blacks into long-lived healthy people necessarily," says Dr. Davis. "But maybe that link could help scientists develop medicines that target the protein that gene encodes, to help people who have high triglycerides try to correct them or try to help them raise their HDL."
The lipid study, published in the October issue of Twin Research and Human Genetics, included 106 black twins and 106 white twins. The heart rate variability study, published in the October issue of the American Journal of Cardiology, looked at 166 adolescents, 104 pairs of twins and 11 individual twins.
A related candidate gene study, published in the October issue of Ethnicity and Disease, looked at a handful of genes linked to obesity and implicated in lipid metabolism in mostly unrelated individuals: 413 health adolescents and young adults who were 44 percent black and 53 percent male. Researchers want
Contact: Toni Baker
Medical College of Georgia