Heart Disease and Family History: Keeping Your Risks Low

Man in red sweater experiencing chest pain

Heart problems, like many other health conditions, can run in the family. This only makes it important to know your family history of cardiovascular disease, especially if your parents or grandparents suffered from it. It also pays to be aware of the things you can do and the lifestyle changes you can make to avoid heart problems.

A Good Start

Cardiology centers in Mt. Pleasant note that one key to managing your risk is knowing and understanding your medical family history. You should find out if your parents, grandparents, and other close relatives have or had cardiovascular disease and other related medical conditions that are considered risk factors for heart disease. These include:

– High blood pressure (HBP)
– High cholesterol
– Diabetes
– Stroke
– Heart attack
– Blood vessel problems
– Heart rhythm issues

Lower Your Risk

Even if heart disease runs in your family, this does not mean that you can do nothing to avoid it. Healthy choices and lifestyle will help lower your risk or keep your risk low. Here are a few things that can help:

Get regular checkups. This is to monitor your weight, cholesterol level, and blood pressure. You can also talk to your doctor about the signs you need to watch out and screenings and tests you may need to take.

Manage your condition. If you happen to have medical conditions that can increase your risk like HBP, be sure to stay on your medicine and treatment plans. Follow your physician’s order and get your prescriptions refilled when you’re running low or before you run out.

Quit or avoid smoking. Cigarette smoking is a key risk factor for heart disease. It damages the lining of your arteries, resulting in plaque and fat buildup that can narrow your artery. This can cause a stroke or heart attack.

Maintain a healthy weight and eat a balanced diet. Obesity or carrying excess weight can increase your risk of diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. Be sure to eat a diet high in fruits and vegetables and whole grains and fewer processed foods.

Consider other lifestyle changes. These include getting enough sleep, managing stress, and limiting alcohol intake. You should also exercise daily (cardio and strength training) to maintain a healthy weight and improve your heart health.

Learn more about healthy habits for improved heart health. You can talk to your doctor if you’re having difficulties in adopting healthy lifestyle habits.