"This research is a way of finding out the effects of lowering cholesterol early without having a lengthy clinical trial," Ference said.
The researchers looked at genes from participants of several studies, one including more than 350,000 patients, and found nine specific mutations.
For each single measure of reduced lifetime exposure to LDL cholesterol associated with having the mutations, the researchers found a 50 percent to 60 percent reduction in heart disease risk.
Because the second study was presented at a medical meeting, its conclusions should be viewed as preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.
For more about cholesterol, visit the U.S. National Library of Medicine.
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