How Can I Research My Family Health History
Your immediate family your siblings, parents and grandparents has the greatest impact on your personal health. So these are the family members you should start with.
If you feel comfortable, ask them about what kind of health issues theyve experienced that you dont know about. If theyre willing to share, make a note of the information, including their symptoms and when they were diagnosed. You can also ask for more details about the conditions you were already aware of. With this information, you may be able to start seeing patterns.
If you can, its also useful to check in with your extended family, including aunts, uncles, nieces, nephews, and that long-lost cousin you hit it off with at the family reunion last summer.
Public records can also be helpful for looking back generations. When you have a wider picture, you might find out more about issues that tend to appear on one side of your family, skip generations or only affect certain genders or ethnicities.
Why Choose Lurie Childrens For Your Childs Heart Care
If you need to have your child evaluated for a possible heart condition, you can trust Lurie Childrens to be your partner in the journey. Were known for having:
- Nationally ranked pediatric heart program: Were a top-ranked pediatric heart center by U.S.News & World Report. We treat all heart conditions, including the most complex.
- Advanced diagnostic technology: Our cardiac imaging specialists use the latest imaging technology to spot those heart conditions which can be difficult to diagnose.
- Dedicated cardiac team: The cardiac specialists, surgeons and psychologists on our treatment team work to make sure children and families have exactly what they need to thrive.
- Genetic screening expertise: Diagnosing cardiac diseases via genetic screening is complicated. We excel in this area, including a strong partnership with the Bluhm Cardiovascular Institute at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. Since many heart conditions linked to sudden cardiac arrest run in families, affiliation with an adult center matters.
- Advocacy that saves childrens lives: We have a leadership role in the Citizen CPR Foundation. Were building more HEARTSafe Communities by training citizens on CPR and advocating for more public access to AEDs
Varying Levels Of Symptoms
You may inherit a genetic abnormality from your parents, but changes to the heart may not be apparent, Dr. Mackall says.
Family members with the same cardiac genetic abnormality may show widely varying levels of symptoms, from minor to severe or no symptoms at all. And most inherited heart conditions can affect people of any age.
One strong indicator that an inherited heart disease might be in your family is if a relative died suddenly or unexpectedly, especially if the person was young and otherwise healthy, Dr. Mackall says. Sometimes, sudden cardiac death can be mistaken for a heart attack, or go undetected in a drowning or a car accident.
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Table 4 Distribution Of Ideal Intermediate And Poor9 Cardiovascular Health For Each Metric For Adults 20 Years And Older Free Of Cvd Nhanes 20072014
|Cardiovascular Health Metric|
CVD indicates cardiovascular disease DBP, diastolic blood pressure NHANES, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey SBP, systolic blood pressure SE, standard error.
aDifference in percentage between populations with and without family history is significant at 0.05 level.
bA score of 0, 1, or 2 was assigned to each cardiovascular health metric to represent poor, intermediate, or ideal health. The overall score for the 7 health metrics ranged from 0 to 14.
The results of the sensitivity analysis corresponding to and when the outcome is heart attack or angina instead of CVD are presented in Table S1 and S2, respectively. The pattern of associations and the difference in distributions of the cardiovascular health metrics were largely consistent for both outcomes.
Am I At Higher Risk For Genetic Heart Disease
In general, if one of your close male family members was diagnosed with heart disease or had a heart condition before age 55 or one of your close female family members before age 65 you may be at higher risk. Developing heart disease, including coronary artery disease, before these ages is considered early.
Ethnicity can also influence your risk. For example, African-Americans and South Asians tend to be diagnosed with heart disease at higher rates.
But its different for every person and every family. Keep in mind that just because you might be predisposed to a certain heart condition, that doesnt mean youll develop it. Your doctor can help you determine your unique level of risk for heart disease.
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Genes And Hereditary Heart Disease
Genetics play a big role in how you and your family are built. You inherit not only features from your parents, but also unique things about how your body works and functions. These are all passed down from generation to generation, eventually arriving at you.
For example, maybe you come from a family of people who are shorter or taller or who often have red hair. Genes influence these characteristics.
That heredity can also play a big role in your familys chances of having heart disease issues like high blood pressure, heart attacks and congestive heart failure. In addition, there are some rare cardiac conditions you may not have heard of that tend to run in families. For example, lipid disorders like familial hypercholesterolemia when your body doesnt process cholesterol efficiently can greatly impact your heart health.
How Much Family History Do You Need To Know
Dr. Kraus, who is also a volunteer for the American Heart Association, said you should share your family history with your healthcare provider as soon as possible.
If you dont know the full history, start with your immediate family. Find out if your brothers, sisters, parents or grandparents had heart disease or stroke and how old they were when they developed these diseases.
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If I Have A Family History What Can I Do About It
Your family history provides a picture of the environment and genetics in place when these diseases occurred. You cant counteract your genetics, Dr. Kraus said, and so if you have a history you must do what you can to change your environment.
That means lowering your risk by changing behaviors that can increase your chances of getting heart disease or stroke. Its good, healthy living the more that can be ingrained in your family, the more impact it has, Dr. Kraus said. A patient should encourage better eating habits, physical activity and eliminating smoking.
What Can I Do About A Family History Of Heart Disease
Unfortunately, we cant control our genes whether thats heart disease risk or a receding hairline. But remember: Your family didnt ask for these things any more than you did, so try to cut them some slack.
Also remember that its not just about your family history its about your future behaviors and habits, too. You can start making lifestyle changes to reduce your heart disease risk today. These steps and choices are things that are very much in your control.
In fact, one study found that by living a healthy lifestyle, people at high genetic susceptibility for coronary artery disease were able to reduce their risk by nearly half, compared with an unhealthy lifestyle. Another study found that while heredity does play a role in heart disease, heart-healthy behaviors may actually be more important.
Regardless of your genetics or family history of heart disease, its essential to take these steps so you can help build your heart health:
- Cut out smoking and tobacco use. Quitting smoking or tobacco use can have a big positive effect on your heart and blood vessels.
- Stop or moderate your alcohol use. That generally means no more than two drinks per day for men, or one drink per day for women.
- Get enough exercise. How much is enough? At least 2.5 hours every week, split up however you prefer.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. A heart-healthy diet is filled with fruits, vegetables, whole grains, healthy fats and fish .
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If So Be Extra Vigilant About Measuring And Managing Your Blood Pressure And Cholesterol
Filling out those family history forms at the doctor’s office can be tedious. But sometimes, the devil is in those details. Because heart disease is so common, many people check “yes” to the question about whether their father or mother had heart disease. But if your father had a heart attack at age 77, that’s likely different than if his heart attack happened when he was only 44.
“If you have any family history of heart disease, that should serve as a keen reminder to pay attention to factors that can raise your risk of a heart attack, such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and diabetes,” says Dr. Howard Sesso, an epidemiologist with the division of preventive medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital. But if a parent or sibling had a premature heart attack, that’s an even stronger signal to be more proactive in monitoring and lowering your risk, he adds. A premature or early heart attack is one that occurs before age 55 in a man or before age 65 in a woman.
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Change Your Risk Factors
When you have a family history or genetic tendencies, the way you live takes on greater urgency. You may have genes that increase your risk of heart disease, but genetic tendencies are not written in stone. You can change your genetic future by making adjustments in your lifestyle.
Thanks to advances in genetics, we know that cells in your body control gene activity. They don’t alter your DNA they modify your health by turning genes on and off.
You can influence this process and change your genetic fate by purposefully altering your environment to avoid stress and toxins, eating healthy foods, and getting regular exercise. Other lifestyle factors like smoking and drinking alcohol also influence your genes.
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Lean In To Your Lifestyle
Your parents didnât just give you their genes. You likely share some of their habits, like mom’s sweet tooth or dad’s hours on the couch watching sports on TV.
You can’t change your mother and father, but you can change your own habits. Studies clearly show that you can lower your risk when you do that. “You can overcome your genesâ in that sense, Sorrentino says.
Do your parents smoke? If you do too, you can quit.
Are they active? If not, you can be the first in your family to make regular exercise a habit. Go for at least 30 minutes of moderate activity on 5 or more days per week.
How do they eat? If they ate too much saturated fat or trans fat, think about whether you need to cut back. If they didnât get enough fiber, you can make it a point to eat more plant foods, which are great sources of fiber. Do they need to lose a lot of weight? If you do, too, ask your doctor for advice to make that happen for yourself.
You donât have to follow in your familyâs footsteps. Give yourself the freedom to make your own path. It will help your heart and your whole body.
Common Myths About Heart Disease
Its a mans disease.But Im too young.Breast cancer is the real threat. If youve heard or said any of this before, youre not alone.
The real fact is, relying on these false assumptions can cost you your life. And for 19-year-old Regan Judd, it nearly did. I kept thinking of my grandpa. But he was so much older than me that I just couldnt grasp it.
Who could blame her? The last thing a young, energetic college athlete has on her mind is contemplating open-heart surgery. But, a combination of family history and a heart murmur since birth meant a diagnosis of heart disease, despite her youth and active lifestyle.
Its time to set the record straight and start thinking of this as a disease that doesnt spare woman and children. Your health is non-negotiable we need to separate fact from fiction so that together, we can stop this killer once and for all.
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It Means You Should Know Exactly What Your Family Members Experiencedand When
To sway the odds in your favor, start by learning all you can about the cardiovascular abnormalities any of your close family members have had. Ask questions like
- Did the heart disease occur in otherwise healthy people?
- At what age did the condition appear? Was it earlier in life?
- How were those conditions treated? Did the treatments work? How long did the person live after learning of their heart disease?
- What was the persons lifestyle like? Did they smoke or drink excessively? Overindulge in rich foods regularly?
- Were regular doctors visits a part of your family members lives?
The most common cardiovascular diseases cardiovascular diseasesin order of prevalenceare ischemic heart disease , cerebrovascular disease , hypertension , inflammatory heart disease and rheumatic heart disease.
Heart attacks alone affect 12.7% of the worlds population.
So, chances are youre likely connected to someone with one form of heart disease or another. The more details you know about each heart condition in your family, the better equipped youll be to collaborate with your medical care providers.
Here Are Some Important Things You Need To Know About Cholesterol:
- Low-density lipoprotein cholesterol is often called bad cholesterol. The reason LDL is called bad cholesterol is that it can build up in the walls of your arteries and form plaque, putting you at risk of a serious cardiovascular event, like a heart attack.
- High-density lipoprotein is considered good because this type carries bad cholesterol away from the arteries.
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Myth: I Dont Have Any Symptoms
Fact: Sixty-four percent of women who die suddenly of coronary heart disease had no previous symptoms. Because these symptoms vary greatly between men and women, theyre often misunderstood. Media has conditioned us to believe that the telltale sign of a heart attack is extreme chest pain. But in reality, women are somewhat more likely to experience shortness of breath, nausea/vomiting and back or jaw pain. Other symptoms women should look out for are dizziness, feeling lightheaded or fainting, pain in the lower chest or upper abdomen and extreme fatigue.
Table 5 Estimates Of Prs From Polytomous Logistic Regression For The Population Without Cardiovascular Disease When Inadequate Cvh And Average Cvh Were Compared With The Population With Optimum Cvh Adults Aged 20 Nhanes 20072014
|Inadequate CVHPR||Average CVHPR|
|Selfreported family history|
CVD indicates cardiovascular disease NHANES, National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey SE, standard error.
aAgestandardized by the direct method to the US 2000 census population using the age groups 30 to 39, 40 to 49, 50 to 59, 60 to 69, and 70 to 74 years.
bExcess heart age is the difference between heart age and chronological age.
cDifference in age for the population with and without family history of heart disease is significant .
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Does Heart Disease Run In Your Family Here’s What You Should Know
We inherit many things from our parents and grandparents â our eye color, maybe, or a cleft chin. Sometimes, that list can also include a higher risk of heart disease. But that doesn’t seal our fate.
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Here’s how much genetics plays a role in heart disease, and what you can do to lower your risk.
How Does The Genetic Testing Process Work
Genetic testing should be thought of as a family test rather than a test on an isolated individual. Although the testing process may start by taking a blood sample from one person, the results are best understood when the family is evaluated as a unit. This way, both the genetic test results and medical test results are available, providing the most accurate picture of how the disease and the gene mutations may act in that particular family. Such comprehensive information not only helps to identify specific patterns in the family, but also plays an important role in confirming that the gene mutation is truly an accurate marker of the family’s heart disease.
Carefully reviewing the family history helps to identify the best person in the family to be tested first to try to initially find the gene mutation that causes the family’s heart disease. To increase the chances of getting useful results, this person should be someone who has a clear diagnosis of the inherited heart condition ideally the most severely affected family member. A sample of this person’s blood will be sent to a genetic testing laboratory to undergo genetic testing for his/her condition.
Genetic Testing For Inherited Heart Disease
Medical conditions that run in a family are inherited or geneticcaused by changes in genes that are passed from generation to generation. Many different types of heart disease can be inherited. Some conditions, like high blood pressure or coronary artery disease , run in families but probably result from a number of different genetic changes that individually have a subtle effect, but work collectively in a complex manner to cause disease. In these situations, genetic testing is not yet available. There are other less common inherited heart diseases that are caused by just one or very few genetic changes that have a very strong effect in causing disease. In this Cardiology Patient Page, we describe our approach to this type of inherited heart conditions and genetic testing. Examples include conditions that affect the heart muscle, called inherited cardiomyopathies, such as hypertrophic cardiomyopathy , dilated cardiomyopathy , and arrhythmogenic right ventricular cardiomyopathy . There are also inherited heart conditions that affect the electrical system of the heart, causing abnormal heart rhythms called arrhythmias. Examples of inherited arrhythmias include Long QT syndrome and Brugada syndrome. Some of these conditions may require changes in lifestyle or medical therapy. All inherited heart diseases require special attention not only for the individual patient, but also for their family to see if other relatives are in need of medical care.