Lifestyle Moderates Genetic Risk of Venous Thromboembolism: The ARIC Study

Christina R. Evans, Ching Ping Hong, Aaron R. Folsom, Susan R. Heckbert, Nicholas L. Smith, Kerri Wiggins, Pamela L. Lutsey, Mary Cushman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Objective: Venous thromboembolism (VTE) is a common disease that has a genetic basis. Lifestyle factors contribute to risk, but it is unknown whether healthy lifestyle can mitigate the genetic risk. We studied whether greater adherence to the American Heart Association's cardiovascular health metric, Life's Simple 7 (LS7), is associated with lower incidence of VTE in individuals across categories of a genetic risk score (GRS) for VTE. Approach AND RESULTS: We followed 9026 White participants from the ARIC (Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities) Study, a prospective cohort enrolled in 1987 to 1989 until 2015. We tested the joint associations with VTE of a validated VTE GRS comprising 5 well-known gene variants and baseline LS7 categories. There were 466 incident VTE events over 22.8 years. Participants with an optimal LS7 score had a lower incidence of VTE (3.9%) than those with inadequate LS7 (5.7%). Compared with the high GRS and inadequate LS7 group (hazard ratio=1), those with high GRS and optimal LS7 indeed had a reduced hazard ratio of VTE: 0.65 (95% CI, 0.48-0.89). The group with low GRS and optimal LS7 had the lowest hazard ratio of VTE (0.39 [95% CI, 0.25-0.61]). Of the LS7 components, in all GRS groups, the factor most strongly protective for VTE was normal weight. Conclusions: Among people at low or high genetic risk for VTE, healthier lifestyle factors, particularly normal weight, were associated with a lower incidence of VTE. Further studies should determine the impact of lifestyle changes among patients at high genetic risk of VTE, such as in thrombophilic families. Graphic Abstract: A graphic abstract is available for this article.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2756-2763
Number of pages8
JournalArteriosclerosis, thrombosis, and vascular biology
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 1 2020

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© 2020 Lippincott Williams and Wilkins. All rights reserved.


  • genetics
  • health status
  • lifestyle
  • risk factor
  • venous thromboembolism


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