According to the current edition of Circulation, deaths caused by cardiac valve diseases seem to run in families. The study found that first-degree relatives of people who died of mitral valve disease -- siblings, parents, or children -- were 2.5 times more likely to die of it as well. Meanwhile, second-degree relatives of people who died of mitral valve disease were 67 percent more likely to die of the same cause.
"These findings suggest that unknown genetic factors contribute to death due to mitral valve disease and death due to non-rheumatic aortic valve disease. Future studies will attempt to discover the genes responsible for such risk," study author Benjamin Horne, a Ph.D. candidate in genetic epidemiology at the University of Utah's department of medical informatics, said in a prepared statement.
A Utah Population Database was used for the study. The information examined includes death certificates and genealogy data of people who died of aortic and mitral valve disease. "While some small studies have suggested that some types of mitral valve disease may aggregate in families, this study used a population database that included millions of individuals across several centuries with their genealogical relationships to each other and with 250,000 death certificates for those from the 20th century," Horne said.
You can read more about this study at http://www.news-medical.net/?id=6026