BACKGROUND: The relation between burden of risk factors, familial coronary artery disease (CAD), and known genetic variants underlying CAD and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) levels is not well-explored in clinical samples. We aimed to investigate the association of these measures with age at onset of CAD requiring revascularizations in a clinical sample of patients undergoing first-time coronary angiography.
METHODS: 1599 individuals (mean age 64 years [min-max 29-96 years], 28% women) were genotyped (from blood drawn as part of usual clinical care) in the Copenhagen area (2010-2014). The burden of common genetic variants was measured as aggregated genetic risk scores (GRS) of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) discovered in genome-wide association studies.
RESULTS: Self-reported familial CAD (prevalent in 41% of the sample) was associated with -3.2 years (95% confidence interval -4.5, -2.2, p<0.0001) earlier need of revascularization in sex-adjusted models. Patients with and without familial CAD had similar mean values of CAD-GRS (unweighted scores 68.4 vs. 68.0, p = 0.10, weighted scores 67.7 vs. 67.5, p = 0.49) and LDL-C-GRS (unweighted scores 58.5 vs. 58.3, p = 0.34, weighted scores 63.3 vs. 61.1, p = 0.41). The correlation between the CAD-GRS and LDL-C-GRS was low (r = 0.14, p<0.001). In multivariable adjusted regression models, each 1 standard deviation higher values of LDL-C-GRS and CAD-GRS were associated with -0.70 years (95% confidence interval -1.25, -0.14, p = 0.014) and -0.51 years (-1.07, 0.04, p = 0.07) earlier need for revascularization, respectively.
CONCLUSIONS: Young individuals presenting with CAD requiring surgical interventions had a higher genetic burden of SNPs relating to LDL-C and CAD (although the latter was statistically non-significant), compared with older individuals. However, the absolute difference was modest, suggesting that genetic screening can currently not be used as an effective prediction tool of when in life a person will develop CAD. Whether undiscovered genetic variants can still explain a "missing heritability" in early-onset CAD warrants more research.