Implementing polygenic scores for cardiovascular disease into NHS Health Checks

Report

The information held within our genes and how it can be used to improve individual health, continues to generate excitement amongst researchers, health professionals and policymakers. The potential to routinely use polygenic scores in clinical practice is currently of particular interest, and research indicates that polygenic scores for cardiovascular disease may be the closest to potential implementation and delivery.

In Implementing polygenic scores for cardiovascular disease into NHS Health Checks we evaluate the NHS Health Check programme as a possible exemplar for the introduction of the routine use of polygenic score analysis. As population scale research to determine the clinical validity and utility of polygenic scores gets underway, and with the eagerly anticipated review of the NHS Health Check programme looming, our new report is exceptionally timely.

Starting from the assumption that polygenic score analysis for NHS Health Checks has proven clinical validity and utility – and this is not yet a given - we set out a framework for how policy makers and health systems might incorporate polygenic scores in this context. After an introduction to genomics and to polygenic scores, and a description of the current NHS Health Check programme, we build on interviews from key experts and stakeholders to demonstrate how CVD polygenic score analysis could be incorporated, and the changes that would be required. The report ends with suggestions for how polygenic scores for CVD could transition beyond NHS Health Checks to deliver more personalised healthcare in future. 

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