Healthy Lifestyle Significantly Reduces CV Risk Regardless of Genetic Risk

Adherence to a healthy lifestyle was associated with a significantly reduced risk of coronary artery disease regardless of genetic risk, according to results from a study presented Nov. 13 during AHA 2016 and simultaneously published in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Researchers quantified genetic risk for coronary artery disease in 55,685 participants across four studies (the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities Study, the Women’s Genome Health Study, the Malmo Diet and Cancer Study and the BioImage Study) using a polygenic risk score. Additionally, they determined adherence to a healthy lifestyle based on four factors: no current smoking, no obesity, regular physical activity and a healthy diet.

Overall results showed the relative risk of coronary events was 91 percent higher among high genetic risk patients than those at low genetic risk, independent of healthy lifestyle behaviors. However, healthy lifestyle factors did prove to significantly reduce risk of coronary artery disease across all genetic risk categories. In those at highest genetic risk, researchers saw a 46 percent lower relative risk of coronary events in those with a healthy lifestyle, compared to those with an unfavorable lifestyle (no or only one factor).

"Although the absolute risk reduction that was associated with adherence to a healthy lifestyle was greatest in the group at high genetic risk, our results support public health efforts that emphasize a healthy lifestyle for everyone," researchers said. They also suggest an alternative approach that could "target intensive lifestyle modifications to those at high genetic risk, with the expectation that disclosure of genetic risk can motivate behavioral change."

Clinical Topics: Prevention

Keywords: AHA16, American Heart Association, AHA Annual Scientific Sessions, Secondary Prevention

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