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Genetics may play a role in cholesterol levels

Category: Heart Health and Cholesterol

Cholesterol testing may benefit those who have a family history of poor heart health, as a new study has found that an individual's genetics can play a large role in the development of cardiovascular problems.

Researchers from the University of Pennsylvania found that relatively common genetic variants - which can be passed from one generation to the next - play a large role in the way the body metabolizes lipids, or fats.

For the study, mice with high cholesterol were given drugs that suppress these particular genes. Researchers found that the amount of cholesterol in their blood was reduced by as much as 80 percent.

"This [study] highlights scores of genes not previously implicated in lipoprotein metabolism," said Daniel Rader, who led the study. "These results identify several [genes] associated with serum lipids that are also associated with coronary artery disease, highlighting potential targets for new therapies."

Understanding genetic risk factors could enable doctors to identify patients who are the most likely to develop heart disease, allowing them to recommend lifestyle changes or possibly drug intervention.

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