Polygenic Risk Scores for Cardiovascular Disease: A Scientific Statement From the American Heart Association

Circulation. 2022 Aug 23;146(8):e93-e118. doi: 10.1161/CIR.0000000000001077. Epub 2022 Jul 18.


Cardiovascular disease is the leading contributor to years lost due to disability or premature death among adults. Current efforts focus on risk prediction and risk factor mitigation' which have been recognized for the past half-century. However, despite advances, risk prediction remains imprecise with persistently high rates of incident cardiovascular disease. Genetic characterization has been proposed as an approach to enable earlier and potentially tailored prevention. Rare mendelian pathogenic variants predisposing to cardiometabolic conditions have long been known to contribute to disease risk in some families. However, twin and familial aggregation studies imply that diverse cardiovascular conditions are heritable in the general population. Significant technological and methodological advances since the Human Genome Project are facilitating population-based comprehensive genetic profiling at decreasing costs. Genome-wide association studies from such endeavors continue to elucidate causal mechanisms for cardiovascular diseases. Systematic cataloging for cardiovascular risk alleles also enabled the development of polygenic risk scores. Genetic profiling is becoming widespread in large-scale research, including in health care-associated biobanks, randomized controlled trials, and direct-to-consumer profiling in tens of millions of people. Thus, individuals and their physicians are increasingly presented with polygenic risk scores for cardiovascular conditions in clinical encounters. In this scientific statement, we review the contemporary science, clinical considerations, and future challenges for polygenic risk scores for cardiovascular diseases. We selected 5 cardiometabolic diseases (coronary artery disease, hypercholesterolemia, type 2 diabetes, atrial fibrillation, and venous thromboembolic disease) and response to drug therapy and offer provisional guidance to health care professionals, researchers, policymakers, and patients.

Keywords: AHA Scientific Statements; atrial fibrillation; diabetes, type 2; genome-wide association studies; multifactorial inheritance; predictive genetic testing; venous thromboembolism.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • American Heart Association
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / diagnosis
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / epidemiology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases* / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2*
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Humans
  • Multifactorial Inheritance / genetics
  • Risk Factors