In Spain, cardiovascular diseases are the number one cause of mortality, accounting for 40% of all deaths. According to the most recent figures from the INE (National Statistics Institute), these illnesses caused 120,760 deaths in 2006. Of these, the two most common causes were ischemic heart disease and cerebrovascular disease, making up 31% and 27% respectively.
Among ischemic heart diseases, acute myocardial infarction is the most common, causing 61% of deaths. Even though this illness remains stable in subjects aged between 25 and 74, it is estimated that every year the number of cases of infarction and angina pectoris increases by 1.5% as a result of the ageing population.
Atherosclerosis is the underlying pathology of cardiovascular disease. It is an inflammatory disease characterized by an accumulation of lipids, inflammatory cells and fibrous tissue in the arteries. It presents a multifactorial and complex aetiology, with environmental and genetic factors involved. Even though these two kinds of factors present a similar importance in the development of the disease, only the first ones have been studied.
Currently, thanks to Genome-wide Association Studies (GWAS), hundreds of genetic variants associated to acute myocardial infarction and physiopathological pathways are known. This issue allows for first time to take them into account in the study of cardiovascular risk, a fact that will undoubtedly have great impact on the prevention of cardiovascular diseases.