Study participants with a genetic variant linked to high cholesterol were more likely to develop heart disease
An estimated 6% to 13% of Americans have very high levels of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol, known as severe hypercholesterolemia. These high LDL levels increase the risk of heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
The research team included Geisinger investigators Matthew Oetjens, Ph.D., M.S., Alexander Berry, Ph.D., Laney Jones, PharmD, and Samuel Gidding, M.D. They evaluated genetic data from 11,738 UK Biobank participants who had high LDL levels. The team observed a small difference in the rate of heart disease between those with the lowest LDL and highest LDL levels. However, when participants were grouped by the specific genetic cause of their condition, there were distinct differences in the rates of disease. For example, people with a single gene variant linked to high cholesterol or with elevated lipoprotein (a), a form of LDL cholesterol, had a significantly increased risk of future disease when compared to the rest of the study participants.
The results were published in Arteriosclerosis, Thrombosis and Vascular Biology.
“This study demonstrates the potential for genetic data to inform risk management and clinical care of patients with high cholesterol,” said Dr. Oetjens.
As part of Geisinger’s National Institutes of Health-funded effort, RISK-FH, researchers will further investigate the genetics of heart disease risk using biobanks including Geisinger’s MyCode Community Health Initiative, Mt. Sinai Health System’s BioMe, and NIH’s All of Us.
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