OCT 23, 2020 6:00 AM PDT

Follow Your Heart: A Genetic Predictor of Cardiovascular Disease

WRITTEN BY: Tara Fernandez

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death globally, resulting in the loss of nearly 18 million lives each year. Earlier interventions through drug prescriptions or lifestyle changes are our best hope for saving lives. Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital have identified a biomarker in the blood that can help pinpoint individuals most at risk of developing heart disease earlier, allowing them to make these changes sooner. The protein, called lipoprotein(a), can be measured easily using standard serological or genetic tests.

Lipoprotein(a) is a type of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-like lipoprotein. Unlike LDL cholesterol (often referred to as the “bad” cholesterol due to its link with an increased risk of getting a heart attack or stroke), lipoprotein(a) has, until now, been under-recognized as a biomarker for heart disease. As a result, its blood levels are rarely measured as part of a patient’s blood work.

Pradeep Natarajan, MD is the lead investigator and senior author of the study that aims to shift the focus onto lipoprotein(a) as a valuable genetic test for cardiovascular disease. “Our work demonstrates that genetic risk scoring of lipoprotein(a) offers risk prediction of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease that’s comparable to directly measured lipoprotein(a),” said Natarajan.

“We learned that genetic determinants of elevated lipoprotein(a) may help identify the most effective medication regimen for cardiovascular disease prevention.”

A person’s lipoprotein(a) levels are heavily influenced (up to 95 percent) by genetics as opposed to diet and physical activity levels. Those with a genetic predisposition to have over 50 milligrams per deciliter lipoprotein(a) concentrations in the blood, are 50 percent more likely to develop cardiovascular conditions.

“Using genetic factors enhances our ability to identify at-risk individuals for cardiovascular disease who could benefit from earlier preventive strategies,” explained Natarajan, who added, “At the same time, genetic testing could help identify candidates for clinical trials who are critical to discovering innovative new therapies to address conditions like elevated lipoprotein(a) and related cardiovascular disease risks.”

 

 

Sources: Massachusetts General Hospital, JAMA Cardiology.


 

About the Author
  • Tara Fernandez has a PhD in Cell Biology and has spent over a decade uncovering the molecular basis of diseases ranging from skin cancer to obesity and diabetes. She currently works on developing and marketing disruptive new technologies in the biotechnology industry. Her areas of interest include innovation in molecular diagnostics, cell therapies, and immunology. She actively participates in various science communication and public engagement initiatives to promote STEM in the community.
You May Also Like
AUG 01, 2020
Cardiology
Identifying Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
AUG 01, 2020
Identifying Biomarkers for the Diagnosis of Diabetic Cardiomyopathy
Type 2 diabetes affects millions around the world.  By itself, it prevents your body from properly using sugars fro ...
AUG 15, 2020
Genetics & Genomics
How Dermatitis is Linked to Increased Risk of Food Allergies
AUG 15, 2020
How Dermatitis is Linked to Increased Risk of Food Allergies
Small changes in the genome can sometimes have a huge impact, and researchers have found two that increase the risk of e ...
SEP 01, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Scalp Implants Monitor Epileptic Seizures
SEP 01, 2020
Scalp Implants Monitor Epileptic Seizures
Neuroscientists have developed devices that, when implanted under the scalp of individuals living with epilepsy, can mon ...
SEP 03, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
Diagnosing Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
SEP 03, 2020
Diagnosing Non-Celiac Gluten Sensitivity
Many clinicians once thought that only celiac disease caused gluten intolerance. But some people without it report gastr ...
SEP 14, 2020
Health & Medicine
Direct Amplification: Rapid, Extraction-Free RT-qPCR Results
SEP 14, 2020
Direct Amplification: Rapid, Extraction-Free RT-qPCR Results
As the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic continues to rage across the United States and around the globe, the demand for COVID-19 test ...
SEP 18, 2020
Clinical & Molecular DX
Open Your Heart to the World's Smallest Diagnostic Probe
SEP 18, 2020
Open Your Heart to the World's Smallest Diagnostic Probe
Certain health conditions require doctors to be able to observe tissues and organs in order to tell what’s wrong. ...
Loading Comments...