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Gene Explains Asians' Resistance to Angina Drug

Switched-off DNA may explain why many don't get relief from nitroglycerin

FRIDAY, Jan. 27, 2006 (HealthDay News) -- A common genetic mutation may explain why Asian heart patients are less likely than others to get relief from chest pain when they take nitroglycerin, a new Chinese study finds.

Fudan University researchers examined 111 coronary heart disease patients who were self-administering nitroglycerin under the tongue whenever they experienced an acute angina attacks. Eighty (72 percent) of the patients reported that they had pain relief within 10 minutes of taking the nitroglycerin, while the remainder of the patients experienced no pain relief.

The researchers found that many of the patients who didn't respond to nitroglycerin had an inactive mutant form of the ALDH2 gene. This mutant version is called ALDH2*2.

In order for nitroglycerin to be effective, a patient's body has to be able to convert the nitroglycerin into nitric oxide. This process requires ALDH2.

It's estimated that 30 percent to 50 percent of the Asian population has the ALDH2*2 mutation. This information needs to be considered when doctors recommend nitroglycerin for Asian patients, the study authors said.

The findings were published online Thursday in the Journal of Clinical Investigation.

More information

The American Heart Association has more about angina.

SOURCE: Journal of Clinical Investigation, news release, Jan. 26, 2006
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