While some risk factors for heart disease can be managed with lifestyle changes and medical treatments, others are beyond your control. If your family has a history of heart disease, there is a higher chance that you will get heart disease as well. Although there is nothing you can do to change your genetic makeup, you can reduce your susceptibility to heart disease by assessing your genetic risk and leading a heart healthy lifestyle.
The impact of family history on heart disease risk varies according to a number of factors. First of all, you have to find out which member of your family has suffered from heart disease. If one of your first degree relatives (parents and siblings) has a history of heart disease, you will be more vulnerable to the condition. According to a study conducted by John Hopkins University, the health histories of siblings are more important than those of parents. This means that your risk will be significantly higher if one of your siblings has suffered from heart disease.
The time in which your family members started having heart problems can also affect your chances of getting heart disease. If your parents or siblings contracted heart disease at a younger age, your genetic risk will be higher. Heart conditions that develop in old age are mostly age-related, and they may not be genetic.
It is also important that you find out the factors that contributed to your family members’ heart problems. These factors can be health problems or unhealthy habits, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, smoking, overconsumption of alcohol, or physical inactivity. After you have identified the causes of heart disease in your family, you can take the necessary measures to prevent the same factors from increasing your personal risk of heart disease.