Scientists have uncovered 95 genetic variants underlying abnormal levels of cholesterol and triglyceride blood fats that contribute to heart disease. The discovery has been hailed as a breakthrough in the fight to prevent and treat the condition.
Researchers scanned the genetic codes of more than 100,000 people worldwide to identify the variants.
New clues for developing more effective heart disease treatments were provided by 59 of the variants, which had not been known before.
Regardless of ethnic origin, many of the variants were spread throughout the human population.
The findings were published in two papers in the journal Nature.
"Genetic studies that survey a wide variety of human populations are a powerful tool for identifying hereditary factors in health and disease," said Dr Francis Collins, Director of the US National Institutes of Health, who was one of the research authors.
"These results help refine our course for preventing and treating heart disease, a health problem that affects millions of people worldwide."