Understanding the Link Between Genetics and Heart Conditions
posted by The Live Better Team | December 18, 2017
There are several possible risk factors that may contribute to heart disease, and one of these is family history. Family history can play a large role in determining your risk for heart disease and stroke, the number 1 and number 5 causes of death in America, respectively, and can help physicians predict the likelihood that you or other family members will have a similar condition.
Family History Basics
When it comes to understanding your risk for heart disease and related conditions, the first question to ask is whether your parents and grandparents have a stroke or history of a heart attack?
Stroke and heart disease are both strongly linked to family history, meaning that if someone in your immediate family has suffered or is suffering from one of these conditions, your risk is higher. In general, it’s best to share as much family history with your doctor as possible–if you don’t know a full history of your extended relatives, start with your immediate family, brothers, sisters, parents or grandparents with heart disease or a stroke, and what age they were when they developed these conditions.
Possible Inherited Conditions
Some commonly inherited heart conditions include:
Most of these can affect people at any age, though as we noted above, the age at which parents or other family members were diagnosed could play a role in your risk as well.
Other Genetic Factors
Even if your family has a clean health history when it comes to the heart and related conditions, there are a few other genetic factors that may increase your risk overall. These factors include:
Managing Family History Risks
There’s no way to counteract your genetics, so if you’re at a higher risk of heart-related conditions due to family history, the best you can do is control what you can impact, such as adopting better eating habits, participating in physical activity and stopping smoking.
A family history of cardiovascular disease is no guarantee that you will also have the same conditions, only that your risk is higher than an average person without a family history of the diseases. You can still fully manage your health through lifestyle choices, which are great things to pass on to future generations.
Your doctor can offer additional information and recommendations when it comes to genetics and your risk of heart disease.
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“Family History and Heart Disease, Stroke.” American Heart Association. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/Conditions/More/MyHeartandStrokeNews/Family-History-and-Heart-Disease-Stroke_UCM_442849_Article.jsp
“Center for Inherited Heart Diseases.” Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/heart_vascular_institute/clinical_services/specialty_areas/center_inherited_heart_diseases.html
This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.