A blood fat produced in the liver, which is derived from meat and dairy products, may play a key role in heart disease, researchers believe.
Those with higher levels of triglycerides, which is different to cholesterol, were more likely to have heart disease, according to the analysis of 350,000 people from 101 previous studies. However, experts at Cambridge University said more research was needed to confirm the link.
The Lancet reports that the analysis focused on a specific gene that is known to influence triglyceride levels. Although previous research has looked into the issue, it has been inconclusive.
Those with the variation in the gene that boosted triglyceride levels had an 18% higher risk of heart disease than those who did not, the latest study found.
Blood fat could be causing heart disease in some way, lead researcher Dr Nadeem Sarwar said. However, he suggested that researching the effects of lowering the levels of blood fat was needed to confirm the theory.
He said: "Such trials should help establish whether lowering triglyceride levels can reduce the risk of heart disease."