Approximately 40% of men will lose their male sex chromosome in certain cells by age 70, and that can lead to deadly heart failure, a new study finds. (Illustration by Katriel E. Cho.)
The loss of the male sex chromosome as many men age causes the heart muscle to scar and can lead to deadly heart failure, new research from the University of Virginia School of Medicine shows. The finding may help explain why men die, on average, several years younger than women.
UVA researcher Kenneth Walsh, PhD, says the new discovery suggests that men who suffer Y chromosome loss – estimated to include 40% of 70-year-olds – may particularly benefit from an existing drug that targets dangerous tissue scarring. The drug, he suspects, may help counteract the harmful effects of the chromosome loss – effects that may manifest not just in the heart but in other parts of the body as well.
On average, women live five years longer than men in the United States. The new finding, Walsh estimates, may explain nearly four of the five-year difference.