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Enhancing Cardiovascular Disease Risk Prediction: Comparing Coronary Artery Calcium and Polygenic Risk Scores

A Northwestern University study revealed that both coronary artery calcium and polygenic risk scores significantly influence 10-year risk prediction for coronary heart disease. However, coronary artery calcium score demonstrated superior predictive power, reinforcing the integration of these novel tools in risk prediction models.

  • Cardiovascular disease (CVD), a leading cause of death in the US, is often preventable, emphasizing the importance of accurate risk prediction.
  • The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine study analyzed coronary artery calcium and polygenic risk scores in two US and Netherlands cohorts.
  • Coronary artery calcium, detected by CT scans, has emerged as a robust predictor of future coronary heart disease.
  • Polygenic risk scores offer a novel risk assessment tool by incorporating genetic data.
  • The study included white individuals aged 45-79 without baseline coronary heart disease from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis and the Rotterdam Study.
  • Both coronary artery calcium score and polygenic risk score were significantly associated with a 10-year risk of coronary heart disease, with coronary artery calcium score showing higher predictive ability.
  • Despite limitations like population specificity, the study validates the inclusion of coronary artery calcium scores and polygenic risk scores in the toolkit for predicting cardiovascular risk.

“What this study says is that in white participants enrolled in 2 observational studies, identifying coronary calcium predicted future cardiac events better than our currently available polygenic risk scores.”

Dr. Karol E. Watson, PhD, professor of medicine and cardiology at the David Geffen School of Medicine at the University of California Los Angeles
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