Does My Family History Affect My Risk of Developing Heart Disease?

The Short Answer from a cardiologist

Does My Family History Affect My Risk of Developing Heart Disease?

Q.: Does my family history affect my risk of developing heart disease?

A.: Yes, a family history of heart disease (a first-degree relative such as a parent,  brother, or sister who developed heart disease before age 55) definitely increases your risk.

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While there are many things you can do to improve your chances of avoiding heart disease, there is one thing you can’t change: Your parents.

Although the genes that you inherit play an important role, you can take steps to lessen their influence.

Cultivate a healthy lifestyle. Keep your weight down, exercise, avoid sugars and don’t smoke. Consider adopting the Mediterranean diet. Know  your cholesterol and blood pressure number and seek treatment if these are elevated.

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You can’t change your genes, but you can change most everything else that influences your risk of developing heart disease. Know your family history and use it to guide you in adopting the preventive measures that give you the best chance for good health.

— Cardiologist Steven Nissen, MD, Chairman of the Department of Cardiovascular Medicine at Cleveland Clinic

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