Expanding the Definition of a Positive Family History for Early-Onset Coronary Heart Disease

Published in: Genetics in Medicine, v. 8, no. 8, Aug. 2006, p. 491-501

Posted on RAND.org on December 31, 2005

by Maren T. Scheuner, William C. Whitworth, Henraya McGruder, Paula W. Yoon, Muin J. Khoury

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PURPOSE: Assessing familial risk for early-onset coronary heart disease (CHD) is typically limited to first-degree relatives with early-onset CHD. To evaluate the impact of additional family history, the authors examined the associations between various family history definitions and early-onset CHD. METHODS: By using the national HealthStyles 2003 survey data, the authors assessed associations between self-reported family history and personal history of early-onset CHD (diagnosed at or before age 60 years), adjusting for demographics, hypercholesterolemia, hypertension, and obesity. RESULTS: Of 4,035 respondents, 60% were female and 72% were white, with a mean age of 48.8 years; 4.4% had early-onset CHD. In addition to having at least one first-degree relative with early-onset CHD, other significant associations included having at least one first-degree relative with late-onset CHD, at least one second-degree relative with early-onset CHD, and two or more affected second-degree relatives regardless of age of onset of CHD. Early-onset stroke in at least one first-degree relative and, in women, having at least one first-degree relative with diabetes were also significantly associated with early-onset CHD. CONCLUSIONS: Family history beyond early-onset CHD in first-degree relatives is significantly associated with prevalent CHD diagnosed at or before age 60 years.

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