The genes are associated with raised or lowered levels of lipids, fatty substances in the blood that include cholesterol and triglycerides.
More than 180 researchers worldwide analysed genetic data from more than 90,000 individuals of European ancestry.
Previously unknown links with levels of low density lipoprotein (LDL), or "bad" cholesterol, and high density lipoprotein (HDL), or "good" cholesterol were discovered. Some were more likely in men and others in women.
Study leader Dr Brendan Keating, from the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia in the US, said: "To date, this is the largest number of DNA samples ever used in a study for lipid traits.
"It clearly shows the value of using broad- ranging global scientific collaborations to yield new gene signals."
While each genetic variant has a small effect, together they can significantly alter a person's risk of heart disease or diabetes.
The findings are published in the American Journal of Human Genetics.
A follow-up project will aim to identify which of the variants are directly responsible for disease.