Background: The heritability of cardiovascular risk factors is expected to differ between populations because of the different distribution of environmental risk factors, as well as the genetic make-up of different human populations. Methods: The purpose of this analysis was to evaluate genetic and environmental influences on cardiovascular risk factor traits, using a variance component approach, by estimating the heritability of these traits in a sample of 1,666 individuals in 81 families ascertained randomly from a highly admixed population of a city in a rural area in Brazil. Results: Before adjustment for sex, age, age2, and age × sex interaction, polygenic heritability of systolic (SBP) and diastolic (DBP) blood pressure were 15.0% and 16.4%, waist circumference 26.1%, triglycerides 25.7%, fasting glucose 32.8%, HDL-c 31.2%, total cholesterol 28.6%, LDL-c 26.3%, BMI 39.1%. Adjustment for covariates increased polygenic heritability estimates for all traits mainly systolic and diastolic blood pressure (25.9 and 26.2%, respectively), waist circumference (40.1%), and BMI (51.0%). Conclusion: Heritability estimates for cardiovascular traits in the Brazilian population are high and not significantly different from other studied worldwide populations. Mapping efforts to identify genetic loci associated with variability of these traits are warranted.
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