A group of researchers led by Mayo Clinic has discovered that disclosing genetic risk for coronary heart disease (CHD) results in lower low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL), also known as bad cholesterol. The findings of the Myocardial Infarction Genes (MI-GENES) Study were presented today at the annual American Heart Association Scientific Sessions 2015 as a late-breaking clinical trial.

In this study, the investigators tested the hypothesis that incorporating genetic risk information into CHD risk estimates would lead to lowering of LDL levels. Participants were randomized to receive a CHD risk estimate that included genetic risk information versus an estimate based on conventional risk factors alone. Conventional risk factors include high blood pressure, diabetes, physical inactivity and a history of smoking. Six months after risk disclosure, the LDL levels were nearly 10 milligrams per deciliter of blood lower in those randomized to receive genetic risk information. The lower LDL levels resulted from a greater proportion of individuals in this group being started on statin medication.

“This study demonstrates for the first time that disclosing genetic risk information for a common disease such as CHD can result in changes in a relevant health outcome, in this case, LDL levels,” says Iftikhar Kullo, M.D., Mayo Clinic cardiologist and lead author. “The study also demonstrates the feasibility of placing genetic risk information into the electronic health record to empower patients and physicians to make decisions related to initiation of a statin medication. This is an important advance in the area of precision medicine for cardiovascular diseases.”