How do genes impact your heart?

Your family history can increase your risk of heart disease.

Genetics play an important role in your overall health, and your heart is no exception. When it comes to heart disease risks, there are some that can be controlled, such as smoking and inactivity, and some that can't - such as your genes.

Know your family history.

Your risk of cardiovascular disease is higher if there's a pattern of heart disease in your family. But what does "a family history of heart disease" really mean? You may be at increased risk if:

  • Your father or brother was diagnosed with heart or vascular disease before age 55, or your mother or sister before age 65.
  • Your parent or sibling has high blood pressure or high cholesterol.
  • Your parent or sibling has had a stroke.
  • Your parent or sibling has had coronary artery bypass graft (CABG), angioplasty or another intervention to treat cardiovascular disease.

Take action.

According to the American Heart Association, the more risk factors you have, and the more severe they are, the greater your risk of heart disease. To help mitigate genetic vulnerabilities, focus on the risk factors that you can control.

Most importantly, if you smoke - quit. You should also try to get regular exercise, whether you dance, swim, or just take a walk (be sure to talk to your doctor before beginning an exercise routine). Eating habits matter too - be sure to fill your plate with colorful, heart-healthy fruits and vegetables. Finally, try to reduce the stress in your life and enjoy yourself more. These steps are a great way to live the ProHeart lifestyle.

"I am now feeling great. I try to walk a couple of miles a day, eat healthy, and take aspirin regularly."
Susan P., I am ProHeart Community Member