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Genetics Research Links High LDL With Heart Valve Risk

People whose genes makes them more likely to have high LDL cholesterol levels may also be more likely to develop a common form of heart valve disease, according to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

The study examined data from among more than 35,000 individuals who were part of the Cohorts for Heart and Aging Research in Genomic Epidemiology (CHARGE): the Framingham Heart Study, the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis, the Age/Gene Environment Study and the Malmö Diet and Cancer Study.

Researchers discovered a causal association between high levels of LDL cholesterol and aortic valve stenosis, a disease which narrows the valve, restricting blood flow from the heart. Aortic valve disease is the most common form of heart valve disease in North America and Europe. It is also the most common reason for patients to require an aortic valve replacement.

According to the JAMA article, “Genetic predisposition to elevated LDL-C was associated with presence of aortic valve calcium and incidence of aortic stenosis, providing evidence supportive of a causal association between LDL-C and aortic valve disease.”

The study is important because down the road, health care providers may choose to reduce LDL levels as an intervention for aortic valve disease. Before that occurs, more research is needed to determine if such interventions are effective, according to the article.