A new study published in Human Genetics and Genomics Advances has shown that almost 30% of people from Greenland have a genetic variant that increases their risk of high cholesterol and cardiovascular disease.
The genetic variant, called p.G137S, is common in Arctic populations and has recently been associated with elevated lipid levels. This study included over 5,000 Greenlanders and tested for associations between the presence of the genetic variant and the metabolic health and cardiovascular disease risk of participants.
Of those participating in the study, almost 30% carried at least one copy of the allele. Those with the variant were at an increased risk of having heart disease, artery disease, and heart operations. Many of the carriers also had high levels of LDL cholesterol.
The study’s authors noted that this work shows that the genetic variant has an even greater effect on lipid profiles than previously thought. Given their results, a screening profile for the genetic variant could be very useful for improving the health of Greenlanders. By using a screening program for early identification of those at increased risk of cardiovascular disease, healthcare providers could implement earlier interventions and improve preventative care.
While genetics can play a major role in cholesterol and heart health, other factors can also have a strong impact on the heart and one’s risk of cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle choices like eating a diet rich in unprocessed foods, vegetables, and whole grains will improve heart health, and regular moderate-to-vigorous intensity exercise strengthens the heart. Avoiding smoking, weight gain, and stress also improve heart health. For those at a higher genetic risk of heart disease, early intervention and some medications may be beneficial.