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Wednesday, 21 November 2007

Genetic and heart disease

A tendency toward heart disease or fatty buildups in arteries seems to be hereditary. That means children of parents with heart and blood vessel diseases may be more likely to develop them. Race is also a factor. African Americans have higher risk of developing high blood pressure. This makes their risk of heart disease and stroke greater.
A family history of diabetes (di"ah-BE'teez or di"ah-BE'tis), gout, high blood pressure or high blood cholesterol also increases the risk of heart disease.
A number of genes have been reported to be associated with heart disease, stroke and high blood pressure in large population-based studies. However, the impact of each individual gene on an individual person is not fully understood.
A person with a congenital heart defect is slightly more likely than the general public to have a baby with a congenital heart defect. Researchers are now identifying genes responsible for causing some of these defects.
Even though you can't change your genetic makeup, you can reduce your risk by adopting a healthier lifestyle that includes physical activity, a healthy diet, and avoiding tobacco.
You can learn more about your family history by asking questions, talking at family gatherings, and looking at family medical records, if possible. Try to learn about the medical history of your grandparents, parents, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, siblings, and children. You should try to find out the following:
Major medical conditions and causes of death.
Age of disease onset and age at death, and
Ethnic background.
Please share your family history information with your doctor. Your doctor will:
Assess your disease risk.
Recommend lifestyle changes to help prevent disease, and
Prescribe laboratory or clinical tests to detect disease early.

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