WASHINGTON (AP) -- A gene variation found in about 13 percent of black Americans greatly increases the risk of irregular heartbeat, a condition linked to the sudden death of about 450,000 people a year in the United States.
To identify the variant, researchers screened hundreds of DNA specimens, searching for different forms of a gene called SCN5A that plays a key role in the chemical and electrical cycling of heartbeat.
They found that the variant, called Y1102, was present in more than half of the black American patients who were being treated for cardiac arrhythmias, or irregular heartbeats.
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