- Reviewed by Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
As the leading cause of premature death in this country, cardiovascular disease is to blame for more than $150 billion in lost productivity each year. Thanks to decades of research, we know a great deal about what predisposes people to coronary artery disease, the most prevalent form of heart disease and the root cause of most heart attacks. However, doctors still can't predict heart attacks very accurately. Some people who appear prone to heart attacks never have one, while others succumb to heart disease despite having no obvious risks.
Can genetic profiling help? Perhaps, according to a 2022 scientific statement from the American Heart Association that looked at the promise and challenge of such testing. Using a small sample of blood or saliva, these tests analyze millions of common variants in your DNA to create what's known as a polygenic risk score. You can have zero, one, or two copies of any gene variant, each of which may either raise or lower your risk of coronary artery disease.
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About the Author
Julie Corliss, Executive Editor, Harvard Heart Letter
About the Reviewer
Christopher P. Cannon, MD, Editor in Chief, Harvard Heart Letter; Editorial Advisory Board Member, Harvard Health Publishing
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