It's the aspiration of doctors and researchers the world over — a genetic test for heart disease that would allow those at risk to jump-start intervention strategies.
Closer than ever, scientists now have developed a heart disease "risk score" based on DNA profiles.
Doctors currently use lifestyles as predictors, including cholesterol; blood pressure; habits, such as smoking; and family history in their assessments. Since so much of heart disease is thought to be inherited, a genetic test is the Holy Grail of predictors. "About half of all heart disease risk is inherited, yet current approaches don't use genetics," associate professor Mike Inouye said. "Our study shows that we can potentially distinguish much earlier in life who is at high risk of heart disease, including heart attack."
Dr. Gad Abraham, Inouye, and researchers from the University of Melbourne's Centre for Systems Genomics developed the risk score as a predictor. Their score is based on more than 49,000 single nucleotide polymorphisms — SNPs — single letters in in the human genome sequence that can vary for individuals. Their results signal a breakthrough for genetic heart disease prediction.
When combined with current predictors, they boosted chances of predicting heart disease 10 years in the future, especially for people over 60.
Their research was published in the European Heart Journal.
They were also able to identify the top 20 percent of men who were at higher rate of lifetime risk. "So far, we've been missing half the picture, but given the great strides being made by genomics in understanding human disease, we expect this approach to one day be part of routine clinical practice," Abraham said.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.