Plasma cholesterol levels were obtained for 177 children, of whom 91 were from 38 families of men who had experienced myocardial infarction (MI) prior to age 50, and 86 were from 39 families of neighborhood controls. Cholesterol levels were higher among men with MI, their wives and their children than among control families. Analysis of variance showed significant sibling aggregation of cholesterol levels among both groups of children (p < 0.001). In addition, the intraclass correlation coefficient for children of affected men (ri = 0.71) was higher than that for children of healthy men (ri = 0.56). Lastly, for case families only, there were significant father-mother (rp = 0.42, p = 0.04) and father-child (rp = 0.44, p = 0.03) pairwise correlations. In this descriptive study the relative roles of genes and environment cannot be quantified. Thus, genetic factors cannot be excluded, and these findings are also consistent with an hypothesis that families of men with premature MI share similar environmental factors. This study does indicate, however, that such factors determine both higher levels and greater similarities in plasma cholesterol levels among children of men with MI.
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