Genetic and environmental contributions to cardiovascular disease risk in American Indians the strong heart family study
The aims of the Strong Heart Family Study are to clarify the genetic determinants of cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk in American Indians and to map and identify genes for CVD susceptibility. The authors describe the design of the Strong Heart Family Study (conducted between 1998 and 1999) and evaluate the heritabilities of CVD risk factors in American Indians from this study. In the first phase of the study, approximately 950 individuals, aged 18 years or more, in 32 extended families, were examined. The examination consisted of a personal interview, physical examination, laboratory tests, and an ultrasound examination of the carotid arteries. The phenotypes measured during the physical examination included anthropometry, lipoproteins, blood pressure, glycemic status, and clotting factors. Heritabilities for CVD risk factor phenotypes were estimated using a variance component approach and the program SOLAR. After accounting for the effects of covariates, the authors detected significant heritabilities for many CVD risk factor phenotypes (e.g., high density lipoprotein cholesterol (heritability = 0.50) and diastolic blood pressure (heritability = 0.34)). These results suggest that heredity explains a substantial proportion of the variability of CVD risk factors and that these heritabilities are large enough to warrant a search for major risk factor genes.