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BACKGROUND: The impact of elevated systolic blood pressure (SBP) and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) on the risk of coronary heart disease (CHD) at different stages of life is unclear. We aimed to investigate whether genetically mediated SBP/LDL-C is associated with the risk of CHD throughout life. METHODS AND FINDINGS: We conducted a three-sample Mendelian randomization analysis using data from the UK Biobank including 136,648 participants for LDL-C, 135,431 participants for SBP, and 24,052 cases for CHD to assess the effect of duration of exposure to the risk factors on risk of CHD. Analyses were stratified by age at enrolment. In univariable analyses, there was a consistent association between exposure to higher LDL-C and SBP with increased odds of incident CHD in individuals aged ≤55 years, ≤60 years, and ≤65 years (p-value for heterogeneity = 1.00 for LDL-C and 0.67 for SBP, respectively). In multivariable Mendelian randomization analyses, exposure to elevated LDL-C/SBP early in life (age ≤55 years) was associated with a higher risk of CHD independent of later life levels (age >55 years) (odds ratio 1.68, 95% CI 1.20-2.34 per 1 mmol/L LDL-C, and odds ratio 1.33, 95% CI 1.18-1.51 per 10 mmHg SBP). CONCLUSIONS: Genetically predicted SBP and LDL-C increase the risk of CHD independent of age. Elevated SBP and LDL-C in early to middle life is associated with increased CHD risk independent of later-life SBP and LDL-C levels. These findings support the importance of lifelong risk factor control in young individuals, whose risk of CHD accumulates throughout life.

Original publication




Journal article


PLoS One

Publication Date





Humans, Cholesterol, LDL, Blood Pressure, Coronary Disease, Risk Factors, Mendelian Randomization Analysis, Autonomic Nervous System Diseases