Is Heart Disease Hereditary?
As part of a family, you are bound to share many things – genes, behaviors, lifestyles, and your environment. All of these influence your heart and your risk for heart disease. Unfortunately, many do not realize that heart disease can run in the family. Your increased risk can be inherited. Additional risks such as age, race, ethnicity, and activity levels all play a role in your overall risk of heart disease.
If your father or another family member suffered from heart disease later in life, there’s a chance you will, too. It’s best to schedule regular heart check-ups with a specialist.
Genetics and Other Heart Disease Risk Factors
When members of your family pass on traits from one generation to the next through their genes, it’s known as heredity. There are genetic factors that play a role in your increased risk of heart disease, including high blood pressure or related conditions. If you have a family history of heart disease, you need to be extra cautious of smoking and dietary choices.
Of course, your genes alone are not the only cause of heart disease. Other risk factors include:
- Age – Your risk of heart disease increases as you age. According to studies, heart disease typically begins around the age of 65. However, even those as young as 18 years-old can suffer from heart disease or a heart attack.
- Sex – Heart disease affects both men and women and is the leading cause of death in the United States. According to CDC reports, over 610,000 people die each year due to heart disease.
- Race/Ethnicity – Heart disease is the number one cause of death amongst Caucasians, African American, and American Indians. For Hispanics, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders, heart disease is second to cancer.
Your Family History Concerns
It’s important to note that just because your family has a history of heart disease does not mean you will suffer from the same. It just means you have a higher risk. Additionally, you have an opportunity to control your risk factors. By speaking with a heart specialist today, you can start to better manage your lifestyle.
If you want to live a healthier lifestyle, start implementing an exercise routine (especially cardiovascular exercise) and eat a healthier diet. You should also include heart-healthy foods, such as fruits and vegetables, certain types of nuts, and fish. Furthermore, start scheduling a blood cholesterol check-up after age 18 and regularly thereafter. You’ll want to undergo a test once per year.