African Americans suffer disproportionately from poor cardiovascular health outcomes despite similar proportions of African Americans and Americans of European ancestry experiencing elevated cholesterol levels. Some of the variation in cardiovascular outcomes is due to confounding effects of other risk factors, such as hypertension and genetic influence. However, genetic variants found to contribute to variation in serum cholesterol levels in populations of European ancestry are less likely to replicate in populations of African ancestry. To date, there has been limited follow-up on variant discrepancies or on identifying variants that exist in populations of African ancestry. African and African-American populations have the highest levels of genetic heterogeneity, which is a factor that must be considered when evaluating genetic variants in the burgeoning era of personalised medicine. Many of the large published studies identifying genetic variants associated with disease risk have evaluated populations of mostly European ancestry and estimated risk in other populations based on these findings. The purpose of this paper is to provide a perspective, using familial hypercholesterolaemia as an exemplar, that studies evaluating genetic variation focused within minority populations are necessary to identify factors that contribute to disparities in health outcomes and realise the full utility of personalised medicine.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology