Why a Family History of Heart Problems Shouldn't Be Ignored

As you age, your risk of conditions like heart disease and stroke increases. Although there are steps you can take to lower your risk, you're stuck with your genetics. This means that your family history does play a part in your overall risk for these conditions.

At Lakewood Cardiovascular Consultants, our team helps you understand the risk factors for developing heart disease. This includes a thorough exam by our cardiologist, Dr. Erick Calderon, along with a detailed family history. Once those are complete, Dr. Calderon gives you tips to decrease your risk, along with effective treatment methods.

However, if you already know you have a family history of heart problems, you can start making lifestyle changes now before you have to see a doctor. Learn more below about the nature of heart disease, the role of genetics, and how to decrease your risk.

What is heart disease?

Heart disease, which is also known as coronary artery disease, is a chronic condition caused by plaque buildup in your arteries. This plaque is caused by bad cholesterol, or LDL. Over time, the cholesterol plaques build on the walls of your arteries. 

As the plaques continue to build on your artery walls, they begin to narrow, making it harder for blood to get through to your heart. Ultimately, this can lead you to suffer from a heart attack or stroke. 

Heart disease is the number one cause of death in both men and women in the United States each year. With this being the case, knowing your risk is imperative to fighting this condition and living a healthy life. 

Why genetics play a role

When you’re born, you get a little bit of your mother’s genes and a little bit of your father’s genes, meaning you also could inherit any medical conditions that they suffer from. Genetics plays a role in many other conditions, and heart disease is no different.

If your mother, father, or sibling has had a heart attack or been diagnosed with coronary artery disease, you’re at an increased risk for developing that condition as well. Although your fate isn’t completely sealed due to genetic factors, it does raise your chances of suffering from heart disease or stroke. 

However, your parent’s fate doesn’t have to be your own. Family history just means your chances of developing a certain condition are higher than average. 

Coronary artery disease is fairly common, so it shouldn’t be a surprise to find out that someone in your family suffers from it. However, other risks also play a role in someone’s chances of developing heart disease. 

At your appointment, Dr. Calderon asks you important questions about your immediate family’s health. Even if you don’t know the extent of their medical conditions, even a little bit of information helps Dr. Calderon to assess the role that genetics plays in your health.

Tips to decrease your risk of heart disease

Although you can’t change your family’s medical history, you can take steps to decrease your chances of coronary artery disease. Limiting your risks can actually give you a leg up on heart problems in the future. Some of the things you can do to lower your risk include:

If you have a family history of heart disease, it doesn’t mean that you’re doomed to the same fate. It just means that you're at a greater risk. But by making a few lifestyle changes and living a healthier life, your risk of heart disease is significantly decreased.

If you’re wondering what your risk is for developing heart disease, come see Dr. Calderon at our office in Sarasota County, Florida. Call us or request an appointment online.

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