Scientific Contributions of Population-Based Studies to Cardiovascular Epidemiology in the GWAS Era
Longitudinal, well phenotyped, population-based cohort studies offer unique research opportunities in the context of genome-wide association studies (GWAS), including GWAS for new-onset (incident) cardiovascular disease (CVD) events, the assessment of gene x lifestyle interactions, and evaluating the incremental predictive utility of genetic information in apparently healthy individuals. Furthermore, comprehensively phenotyped community-dwelling samples have contributed to GWAS of numerous traits that reflect normal organ function (e.g., cardiac structure and systolic and diastolic function) and for many traits along the CVD continuum (e.g., risk factors, circulating biomarkers, and subclinical disease traits). These GWAS have heretofore identified many genetic loci implicated in normal organ function and different stages of the CVD continuum. Finally, population-based cohort studies have made important contributions to Mendelian Randomization analyses, a statistical approach that uses genetic information to assess observed associations between cardiovascular traits and clinical CVD outcomes for potential causality.