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Adult heart attack risk can be predicted in childhood with new cheap genetic test

Date: 10.10.2018 

The current way doctors evaluate a patient's risk for coronary heart disease involves monitoring one's blood pressure and cholesterol while also identifying other factors such as smoking, family history or diabetes. Kredit: U. S. Navy.

The problem with this strategy is that it is age-dependent, with monitoring only beginning when a person reaches the age of 40 or 50, and it misses a large volume of people who are seemingly otherwise healthy yet get struck down by sudden heart attacks.

Impressive work from an international team of researchers has now resulted in what they are calling a Genomic Risk Score (GRS), which can assess a person's genetic risk factor for developing coronary heart disease. Using genomic data from nearly half a million people, and analyzing nearly two million different individual genetic variants, the test could be a missing link in diagnostic tools, allowing doctors to combine a GRS with other risk factors so as to better target at risk individuals.

In evaluating the efficacy of the new genetic test against six conventional risk factors (smoking, blood pressure, body mass index, diabetes, family history, and high cholesterol) the research found the GRS was better at predicting whether a person would develop heart disease than any other single risk factor. Overall, those with a GRS in the top 20 percent were four times more likely to develop heart disease compared to those with a GRS in the bottom 20 percent.

 


 

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