Family History of Heart Disease? Here's What You Should Know

If you have a family history of heart disease, it’s wise to learn how genetics influence heart disease and find out what you can do to protect your heart. Each year in the United States, heart disease causes close to 650,000 deaths. Heart disease is the leading cause of death among Americans, and family history factors into your risk of developing heart and circulatory issues.

At CA Heart and Vein Specialists, cardiovascular physician Dr. Majed Chane and our team encourage you to take proactive steps to reduce your chances of developing heart and circulatory conditions and to effectively manage existing ones. The most important thing we want patients to know is that your genetics don’t have the final say.

Genetic factors increase your risk of heart attack and stroke

There’s no getting around it: Having a first-degree relative (parent, sibling, or child) with heart disease puts you at an increased risk of developing heart disease, too. In fact, in a study reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers looking at multiple genetic markers found that people with a high genetic risk for heart disease were twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke.

Adopting a healthy lifestyle is key

Fortunately, even if you have a family history of heart disease, you can take steps to protect your heart. That same study revealed that adopting a healthy lifestyle cut the risk of heart disease by nearly half in people with high genetic risk for factors.

The study found that four healthy lifestyle factors — avoiding smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular exercise, and eating a nutritious diet — are key to lowering the risk of heart disease. People with fewer genetic risk factors can also slash their risk by adhering to a healthy lifestyle.

A heart health screening reveals important numbers

Visiting a qualified cardiovascular physician for a heart health screening is an important aspect of lowering your risk for heart disease. When you come to CA Heart and Vein Specialists for a heart health checkup, Dr. Chane conducts a comprehensive evaluation. A heart health screening includes having your blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood cholesterol checked.

Dr. Chane screens for five important markers — waist size, blood pressure, glucose control, cholesterol, and triglycerides. Together, these markers have a major impact on your risk for heart disease. The doctor may order other screening exams depending on your age, family history, and current health status.

Additional heart disease screening

If you have a family history of heart disease or have symptoms such as shortness of breath or chest discomfort during physical activity, talk to Dr. Chane about additional tests he can perform to screen for heart disease:

High-sensitivity C-reactive protein (hs-CRP)

Inflammation is the key underlying factor in heart disease. Your hs-CRP is an important marker in your vascular health. Higher levels means a higher risk for heart and circulatory disease. Checking your hs-CRP level provides Dr. Chane with another piece of information how well your heart and blood vessels are working.

Cardiac stress test

It’s especially important to tell Dr. Chane if you’ve noticed any heart-related symptoms. Issues like shortness of breath, even without chest pain or unusual fatigue, may be a warning sign of heart issues. A cardiac stress test is designed to assess your risk of a heart attack by checking for coronary artery blockage.

No single test is better than another when it comes to heart health. Because a combination of factors influence your risk for heart disease, Dr. Chane takes into account a number of heart health-related factors in recommending a course of action.

Rest assured that whether you want to better manage existing issues like elevated blood pressure or balance out your genetic risks, we can help. To learn more, call our Huntington Beach, California, office to schedule an appointment with Dr. Chane, or request an appointment here on our website.

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