(HealthDay News) — Genes may play a role in cardiac arrest risk among kidney patients who are on dialysis, new research suggests. The study was published online April 16 in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

The researchers analyzed data from 647,457 dialysis patients, focusing on 5,117 pairs of patients from the same family. Each patient was then matched to an unrelated control patient. Cardiac arrest was the cause of death in both patients in 4.3% of the family pairs, compared with 2.6% of unrelated pairs of patients.

Compared with unrelated pairs, the risk of dual cardiac arrest was 88% higher among genetically-related family members who did not live together, and 66% higher among genetically-related family members who did live together. Dialysis patients who were spouses were not at increased risk for cardiac arrest.

“These findings advance the science because they suggest that genetic factors – or differences in DNA sequence – contribute to the high risk of sudden death among patients on dialysis,” study author Kevin Chan, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, said in a journal news release. “It paves the way for more detailed genetic studies in the dialysis population to find specific genes that could explain the high risk of cardiac arrest and potentially new treatments for these patients.”

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