Coronary Artery Disease as an Example
Approximately 13 million Americans have coronary artery disease (CAD) and it is the leading cause of death both in the US and across the world. While modification of many known risk factors (such as sedentary lifestyle, smoking, obesity, and high-fat diet) is effective at reducing death and complications related to CAD1, family history remains one of the strongest independent risk factors for development of this disease.2,3
Having a sibling or parent with CAD at least doubles your risk for developing the disease. A family history of CAD in second-degree relatives (aunts, uncles and grandparents) can also significantly impact risk.3 Further, personal, modifiable risk factors and family history act in a multiplicative fashion.2 Extended 3- to 4-generation family histories are considered by some, e.g. Helix Health of Connecticut, to be the best “genetic test” for many of these conditions.4
We do not support this point of view. Each person is genetically unique, deriving risk and protective factors from both parents. Matrix Genomics is able to estimate the level of inherited risk for acute myocardial infarction, a major consequence of CAD, by making a number of genetic determinations in relevant genes. The results are compared to the published high risk pattern for acute myocardial infarction.5 This defines a wide range of risk from very low to very high – that might be modified by changes in lifestyle or relevant pharmaceutical interventions. We propose this approach as a he first step in creating a personalized management plan.