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GENE MUTATION LINKED TO LEG BLOOD CLOTS IN MEN

An inherited gene mutation in about 6 percent of men makes them prone to develop blood clots in veins of the legs and is the most common inherited factor yet found that predisposes patients to this ailment, according to a new study.

The mutation, affecting a blood factor involved in clotting, creates a threefold higher risk of deep venous thrombosis or pulmonary embolus (a blood clot in the lungs) or both, report researchers from Brigham and Women's Hospital, Children's Hospital and the Harvard University School of Medicine.Based on a study of 14,916 men in the Physicians' Health Study over a period averaging 8.6 years, the report says that the mutation in the Factor V gene was not, however, associated with any increased risk of heart attack or stroke.

Because pulmonary embolisms kill 50,000 to 100,000 people yearly and deep venous thrombosis can be fatal as well, the researchers say the new finding could be broadly important.

- Richard Saltus