Researchers at the University of Maryland and other institutions have reported that a genetic variation common in African Americans naturally protects those with failing hearts.

The scientists discovered that this gene variation—found in 40 percent of black study participants and 2 percent of white participants—helped extend the lives of people with heart failure in a way similar to popular heart medications.

The researchers say this study could help explain why some heart medications appear to provide less benefit to African Americans than to other groups.

Still, black people suffer disproportionately from a number of heart problems. It’s important to continue to try to include heart-healthy foods and activities into your daily routine to help lower your risk of heart disease.

For more information, visit the American Heart Association’s website.