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Dr Alexander Lyon, Consultant Cardiologist at The Physicians’ Clinic, comments on a genetic test than could detect heart attack risk.

October 12, 2018

Recent cardiovascular genetic research has identified a new complex genetic signature which is associated with higher coronary artery disease risk which can lead to serious disease including heart attacks and heart failure.

The study from Australia studied the whole genome of over 22,000 individuals with coronary artery disease and compared them to over 460,000 individuals without coronary disease who were enrolled in the UK biobank. They identified new genetic changes and the combination were combined into a genomic risk score (GRS) consisting of over 1.7 million genetic variants. Individuals in the highest 20% risk based on their GRS had increased coronary disease after accounting for other conventional risk factors including smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. This new study may open up new opportunities for identifying people at higher risks of heart attacks, and particularly those who otherwise would be considered low risk without any of the conventional heart attack risk factors.

This is an observational and retrospective study, and the next step is to apply this in a research trial to prove that this new genetic risk score truly does predict future coronary artery disease and heart attacks, and would then be part of established modern cardiovascular risk prediction.

Currently we advise people to have their cardiovascular risk calculated. Recently the programme for calculating heart age using the JBS3 calculator was highlighted in the press and this led to over 2 million people in the UK calculating their heart age. I encourage people to do this and if their heart age is higher than their true chronological age we would be happy to guide them on risk factor management to protect them for the future.


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