Risk Factors for Heart Disease~Family History
Family History and Heart Disease
Although lifestyle factors like diet and exercise play a major role in your heart health, genetics are also important. Find out what you need to do if you have a family history of heart disease or stroke.
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Everyday Health:Many Everyday Health readers have relatives with heart problems. What extra steps should you take if you have a family history of heart disease?
Jacob DeLaRosa, MD()
As the cliché goes, “See your doctor.” I cannot overemphasize this. If you have a family member who has heart disease or has had a major cardiac event, the chances of you also having one are high. In other words, if your father had coronary artery disease and heart surgery at 40, and his brother had the same at 42 years old, and his mother had a stroke, you should be screened before 40 for cardiovascular disease. The apple does not fall far from the tree….
Niloo M. Edwards, MD()
There are two main determinants of heart disease: genetics and environment. So if you have family members who have heart disease you know that you are at risk for similar problems, and the probability of developing the same problem increases unless you change your environment. Hearing you have a family member with heart disease should set off warning bells that it’s time to get your act together. If you haven’t already, you should stop smoking, watch your diet and start exercising, and you should talk to your doctor so that you can have the appropriate screening if necessary.
Think of it this way. If you heard about a product recall, wouldn’t you check to make sure you don’t have one of those defective items? Hearing that you have a family member with heart disease is like a biologic product recall. Check to make sure you don’t have the same genetic defects.
Kirk Laman, DO, FACC(, )
If you or someone you love has a family risk of developing heart disease, make sure you are doing all you can do to treat the other risk factors for heart disease. Stop smoking if you smoke. Modify your diet to strictly avoid animal fats. This includes milk products and all meat. Exercise regularly and reduce your weight. Patients who have no other risk factors for heart disease except a family history have less than a 10 percent chance of developing heart disease. You can prevent heart disease. Take the steps you need to take to preserve your health, before it's too late.Learn how to quit smoking for good to protect your heart.
Dave Montgomery, MD, PhD()
A family history of heart disease is NOT a death sentence. Think of it as your road map to optimal health. Knowing your family history in detail may save you or your offspring from the serious consequences of unchecked heart disease. If you have a family history of heart disease:
- Know the details of your family’s health history. Sit with your family members to discuss the conditions that run in the family. It could save somebody’s life.
- Make certain that your physician knows the details of your family history.
- Ask your doctor what kind of specialized screening, if any, should be done, or what precautions you may need to take to reduce your risk of developing the condition or suffering serious consequences.
Video: British Heart Foundation - Family history and heart disease
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