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November 28, 2000

Genetics and Heredity

Question from Bellevue, Washington, USA:

My 15 year old daughter has type 1 diabetes. My hobby is genealogy, and in my search I have found a strong history of type 1 diabetes. (My great grandfather and three of his seven siblings died before age 40 of diabetes, before insulin. There are also several of the descendants in my daughters generation with type 1.) We also have a strong history of heart disease (my grandfather and his siblings, and my father all have had early heart attacks [my father at age 46]). We have been told that the kind of heart disease in my family is probably genetically based, rather than lifestyle. Are there any studies linking the genes that cause type 1 to the genes that cause heart disease or is this just one of those fluky things?


From: DTeam Staff

The strongest predictor of heart disease in individuals with type 1 diabetes is the presence of kidney complications. It is also true that there are familial risk factors for kidney abnormalities and diabetes within families. I suggest you speak with your physician about some of these. There is not, however, a single gene which explains both type 1 diabetes and heart disease.