Can we use gene variants to identify individuals at higher risk for heart attack?

We were among the first to empirically test the concept that multiple common variants (each with a modest effect) in combination can contribute to risk for MI (N Engl J Med 2008). Since this initial report, genetic risk scores have been widely applied in the human genetics literature. Most recently, we demonstrated that a genetic risk score comprised of 13 MI polymorphisms can identify 20% of the population at 70% increased risk for MI (Lancet 2010). These findings set the stage for clinical use of gene variants to predict MI risk in asymptomatic patients.