Many people mistakenly believe that if they do not have a family history of heart disease they are not at risk of experiencing cardiovascular health issues at any point in their lives. The truth is that heart disease can be caused by many different factors, and genetics is just one of them. Therefore, the answer to the question, “Is heart disease genetic?” is: “It can be.”
Possibly more important that a genetic disposition to heart disease is whether or not you consistently live a healthy lifestyle. In other words, it’s possible to have strong family history of heart disease, but you may be able to drastically reduce your propensity to develop cardiovascular problems by maintaining a low risk lifestyle and by keeping your body at a healthy weight, eating a balanced and healthy diet, refraining from smoking and significant alcohol consumption, and leading a relatively stress-free life.
A Healthy Lifestyle is the Most Important Factor
There is little doubt that heredity plays a role in the likelihood that you will develop the same type of heart disease as your mother, father or close relative(s) – if you live a similar lifestyle to that person/people. On the other hand, studies have shown that being proactive about living a healthy lifestyle has more impact on a person’s propensity to develop heart disease than genetic factors. All genetic risk factors for heart disease cannot be completely eliminated by leading a healthy lifestyle, but they can be drastically reduced.
Almost Everyone in My Family Has Suffered from a Heart Attack, a Stroke, or Another Type of Heart Disease
It’s incredibly important to be aware of your family’s health history and be educated on the most common ailments suffered by members of your family. But you should not use the information as a definitive precursor for your own future. If your family suffers from a high incidence of heart disease and stroke, that information can be used as a wake-up call that you must pay very close attention to your own lifestyle, eating habits, and exercise regimen. In other words, just because your mother, father, brother and sister suffer from heart disease does not mean you are destined to the same fate if you choose to do something about it.
Pay Attention to Your Health When You’re Young
The sooner you are aware of a genetic predisposition for heart disease, the earlier you can begin to take the necessary steps to ensure you will not follow the same path. A person is never too young to adopt a healthy lifestyle – which includes eating a healthy diet, getting adequate exercise, and not smoking. Additionally, regular cholesterol and blood pressure checks are advisable so that any indication of impending health issues can be detected early and potentially stopped or reversed before they become problematic.
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