Why Heart Disease

Heart disease is the leading cause of death globally

Coronary heart disease is the most common form of heart disease. It occurs when cholesterol-laden plaque accumulates and hardens in the arteries of the heart, causing narrowing or complete blockage of the arteries and reduction of blood flow, ultimately resulting in heart attack.

Coronary artery disease takes the lives of 7.3 million people each year,1 and its prevalence is rising around the world.2 Low-and-middle income countries now account for more than 80% of global deaths due to the disease.3

Human genetics has revealed that lifelong reduction of low-density lipoprotein (LDL) cholesterol and/or triglyceride-rich lipoproteins (TRL) greatly reduces a person’s risk of coronary heart disease. Existing cholesterol-lowering medications, including statins and other therapies, have played an important role in treating individuals with coronary heart disease and those who have had a heart attack. However, despite current treatment approaches, coronary heart disease remains the leading cause of death for the following reasons:

Limitations of Current Approaches

Poor Adherence

Only 39% of individuals reported adherence to statin therapy4 in the year following a heart attack, even when the medicine was provided free of charge.

Cost

Current therapies are given over decades with costs that can be prohibitively expensive.

Side Effects

Existing therapeutics carry side effects for a subset of the population.

Timing

The current treatment approach starts too late, after decades of exposure to damaging levels of risk factors.

Access

Ongoing access to oral medications and specialist physicians is limited in developing countries where coronary heart disease is rising.

Only 39% of individuals reported adherence to statin therapy4 in the year following a heart attack, even when the medicine was provided free of charge.

Current therapies are given over decades with costs that can be prohibitively expensive.

Existing therapeutics carry side effects for a subset of the population.

The current treatment approach starts too late, after decades of exposure to damaging levels of risk factors.

Ongoing access to oral medications and specialist physicians is limited in developing countries where coronary heart disease is rising.

Genetics and Heart Disease

A significant percentage of the population is at high genetic risk for coronary heart disease, even after carefully managing other known risk factors like diet, exercise and smoking. These individuals have gene variants that cause high LDL cholesterol levels, leading to increased lifelong risk for heart attack. Conversely, studies have found that certain gene variants are protective against coronary heart disease. For instance, a subset of the population carries a naturally protective variant of a gene known as PCSK9. People born with this variant have extremely low LDL cholesterol levels resulting in a dramatically lower lifelong risk of coronary heart disease and heart attack than the rest of the population. These human genetics findings reveal the solution for how to treat coronary heart disease at a genetic level.

Learn more about our approach
  1. World Health Organization, “Global atlas on cardiovascular disease prevention and control,” 2011 (Link)
  2. World Health Organization, “The top 10 causes of death,” 2018 (Link)
  3. Finegold, J.A., Asaria, P., Francis, D.P., “Mortality from ischaemic heart disease by country, region, and age: statistics from World Health Organisation and United Nations,” 2013 (Link)
  4. Choudhry, N.K., et al., “Full coverage for preventative medications after myocardial infarction,” 2011 (Link)