If you have a family history of heart disease, you probably know that the risk of heart disease is higher. But how much higher? The answer is essential because when we know how high we are, we have significantly effective ways to reduce your risk. Your genes don’t have to be your destiny.
But she wonders, is this enough to prevent heart disease or stroke in her future?
What is your risk?
Family history of heart disease is one of the most challenging heart disease risk factors to evaluate. Unlike other major risk factors (age, smoking, diabetes, high blood cholesterol, and hypertension), it is difficult to measure the impact of family history on individual risks. We know that a family history of heart disease increases your risk (especially if a heart attack or stroke occurs early in life, usually defined as a first-degree male relative <55 years or a woman <65 years). , But there may be more to the “bad genes” to the story. The affected family members may have poor health decisions (such as being a smoker’s father) or have been exposed to different environments.
And this question of risk is very important because risk is the key factor in determining how aggressive we should be in our prevention measures. When we know someone’s risk is high, we have very effective ways to lower that risk. The problem is that often with a family history, people are at risk and unaware of it.
How to determine your risk
Sometimes the family history of heart disease is obvious. For example, if high cholesterol is present in the family, that person is likely to benefit from aggressive treatment of their high cholesterol. In other cases, the reason for family history is not easily explained by traditional risk factors. Most of us probably know someone, probably with a family history, who has heart disease even though it looks like a picture of health.
In these situations, we need more information to pinpoint that person’s risk. And in practice I get this information by doing an imaging study to get a patient’s artery disease rate by calcium CT or carotid ultrasound.
The role of these imaging studies, such as a calcium CT score or a carotid ultrasound, is to further clarify one’s risk for future heart sickness. The amount of arterial disease a patient has is a powerful predictor of their future risk for heart disease. And when we know that someone is at great risk, we can act more aggressively by preventing them.
Heart sickness and stroke are very common. Research has shown us that 60% of men and 56% of women in the US will have a heart attack, stroke or heart failure throughout their lives. This is bad news. The good news is that 80% of heart disease is preventable. If you have a family history of heart disease, talk to your doctor to see if there are ways you can better understand and lower your risk