Men who die early from heart disease are more likely to have a specific variant of a blood clotting gene.
Researchers in Finland carried out tests on 500 men who had died suddenly, many of whom had had a cardiac arrest.
They found that, in men younger than 55, a gene variant known as HPA-2 Met was 2.2 times more common than in the general population.
The gene is one of many involved in the blood clotting cascade. Men with HPA-2 Met have blood that is 'stickier' and more prone to form clots that fatally block the vessel serving the heart. They found that men who died of a heart attack or coronary heart disease prematurely were also more likely to carry HPA-2 Met.
However, the majority of men in this study had other risk factors, like smoking or diabetes. But it does not mean that this gene variant is a caution for death. Till now there is no screen for HPA-2 Met, but if a test were developed, those at risk could perhaps be helped by preventive anti-clotting drugs.