Genetic Study Identifies Individuals Who Benefit Most From Statins

Researchers at Washington University have shown that a panel of genetic markers can identify individuals at increased risk for heart attack. Those same individuals appear to benefit most from statin therapy (read more). The research appears online March 5th in the Lancet.

For patients at risk of heart disease, doctors routinely prescribe statins, known for their cholesterol-lowering effect. “Current clinical guidelines base treatment indications, in part, on the estimated 10-year risk of having an event,” said Nathan Stitziel, MD, PhD, a Washington University cardiologist and human geneticist who co-authored the report. “In estimating risk of coronary heart disease, a panel of genetic markers appears to identify individuals at higher risk who derive greater benefit from statin therapy.” By combining genetic data on nearly 50,000 individuals enrolled across five studies, the study authors demonstrated that a panel of genetic markers could identify individuals at increased risk for coronary heart disease. They then went on to examine the clinical benefit of statin therapy in groups at different genetic risk. The authors found that individuals with the highest genetic risk derived both greater absolute and relative risk reductions from treatment. “We need more research to confirm these results,” Stitziel said. “Regardless, it appears that individuals with high genetic risk appear to benefit more from statin therapy because they start at a higher baseline risk, even after adjusting for all of the current clinical measures we routinely examine.” The research is published in the Lancet.