Eur J Prev Cardiol. 2019 Feb 12:2047487319829746. doi: 10.1177/2047487319829746. [Epub ahead of print]
Genetic testing for familial hypercholesterolemia: Impact on diagnosis, treatment and cardiovascular risk.
Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is the most common genetic disorder in medicine, with a prevalence of 1/250. Affected individuals have elevated low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and an increased lifetime risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD). The diagnosis of FH is based on algorithms that include LDL-C levels, physical manifestations, family history of high LDL-C and premature ASCVD, and, more recently, genetic testing. We sought to determine the impact of genetic testing on the: 1) diagnosis of 'definite familial hypercholesterolemia', 2) initiation and adherence of lipid-lowering therapy and 3) risk of ASCVD.
We performed a systematic review and meta-analysis, pooling odds ratios and 95% confidence intervals for ASCVD from studies comparing risk estimates in individuals harboring FH-causing variants and unaffected individuals.
After screening 3304 unique publications, 56 studies were included in the analysis. 1) Genetic testing provided confirmation of FH in 28-80%, over clinical criteria alone, depending on the diagnostic algorithm and the method of analysis. In two large population-based studies comprising 76,751 individuals, an FH-causing variant was identified in only 1.7-2.5% of subjects with an LDL-C > 4.9 mmol/L (190 mg/dL). 2) A confirmed molecular diagnosis increased lipid-lowering therapy adherence (five studies, n = 4181 definite FH). 3) Loss-of-function variant of the LDLR were at a markedly increased risk of myocardial infarction (odds ratio 6.77, 95% confidence interval 4.75-9.66), and patients with a milder (hypomorphic) pathogenic LDLR change had a 4.4-fold increase in risk (odds ratio 4.4, 95% confidence interval 2.34-8.26), compared with controls.
DNA sequencing confirms the diagnosis of FH but has a poor yield in unselected patients whose sole criterion is an elevated LDL-C. Initiation and adherence to treatment is improved. The risk of ASCVD is 4.4- to 6.8-fold increased in patients with an FH-causing variant compared with controls, depending on the severity of the DNA change.
Familial hypercholesterolemia; atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease; genetic testing; low-density lipoprotein