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Heartbeat gene holds key to better treatment

Scientists have decoded the gene which holds the key to the rhythm of life by making the heart beat.

Experts hope that the discovery could lead to drug treatments to avoid heart problems.

Heart disease is the leading cause of death in the world, accounting for almost seven million deaths per year.

More than half are sudden and caused by serious heart rhythm disturbances, such as ventricular fibrillation, a short circuit in the heart which can cause it to stop.

A person's heartbeat is controlled by electrical signals, which start in one place -- the heart's pacemaker -- and travel around the heart muscle.

Now a team at Imperial College London has found the gene that controls those signals and so the rhythm of your heart.

Damage to the gene increases the risk of heart disease.

The researchers hope their discovery will help them to understand how the body's heartbeat is controlled and could ultimately help them come up with new treatments for heart rhythm disturbances.

Professor Jaspal Kooner, a co-author of the study, said: "These results may enable us to predict and diagnose serious heart rhythm disturbances better, and in the future develop improved treatments." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent