How Your Family Affects Your Heart Health
Our family and our health are very important to us. They are gifts given to us and we shouldn’t take them for granted. However, sometimes our family give us things we may not want! Like BAD GENETICS!
Many cardiac disorders can be inherited, including arrhythmias, congenital heart disease, cardiomyopathy, and high blood cholesterol. Coronary artery disease leading to heart attack, stroke, and heart failure can run in families, indicating inherited genetic risk factors.
So you may have wondered and asked your doctor if your mom or dad had a heart attack and/or heart disease if that’s going to happen to you. It's true that you’re more likely to get heart disease if it runs in your family. Yet it's only part of the puzzle.
It’s important for you and your physician to know …
- Did two or more relatives on one side of your family have the same form of heart disease?
- Did those relatives have their conditions at an early age? That’s usually defined as before age 55 for men and before 65 for women.
- Does your family have a history of conditions related to cardiovascular disease, such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol?
The type of heart disease is important to watch, too. The two types of cardiomyopathy are strongly associated with genetics. So are heart arrhythmias and valve disorders, particularly when valve disorders strike the young.
Even when no known genes exist, clustering of heart disease, e.g. heart attacks, in a family should be a trigger. Tell your doctor about this family history of heart disease.
Common links in cardiomyopathies
When we get older, our hearts are going to undergo natural “wear and tear.” But when that happens to a person who is relatively young, it’s one of many genetic red flags.
Two types of cardiomyopathies offer examples. First is dilated cardiomyopathy. Anywhere from 20 percent to 50 percent of cases are linked to a mutation in the LMNA gene. With dilated cardiomyopathy, the walls of the heart become thin so that the heart weakens to the point of poor function. Patients also often experience heart arrhythmias. In fact, when a patient has both dilated cardiomyopathy and an arrhythmia, that is often a sign that an LMNA mutation is the cause.
Unlike the thin walls of dilated cardiomyopathy, with another form, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, portions of the heart are actually too thick. The physical aspects are different, but, but the stats on genetics are similar: 20 percent of cases are linked to mutations in the TITIN gene. And TITIN is just one of at least 10 genes associated with the condition.
Genetic screening can’t stop these conditions — but they can help doctors and patients and their families form plans to treat and manage them.
Your family’s history doesn’t have to become your future. You can do a lot to protect your ticker!
Studies clearly show that you can lower your risk.
How can you prevent heart disease if it runs in the family?
- Control your blood pressure. High blood pressure is a major risk factor for heart disease
- Keep your cholesterol and triglyceride levels under control
- Stay at a healthy weight
- Test hormones and keep healthy estrogen balance
- Eat a healthy diet
- Get regular exercise
- Limit alcohol
- Don't smoke
- Manage stress
Knowing about genetic issues, managing and monitoring your health will give you the life-saving information you need to FIGHT heart disease.
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