Genetics: Heart Disease and Your Family Tree

Q: How do I know if heart disease runs in my family?

A:Get to know your family health history by collecting information about your relatives and tracing your health history back at least three or four generations. If a parent and/or family members has heart disease or died from a heart attack, you are at risk of developing other risk factors, such as high cholesterol, obesity, high blood pressure or diabetes.

Q: If I have a family history of heart disease, what should I do to reduce my risk?

A:Visit your physician for a complete medical evaluation, lipid profile, and blood sugar and blood pressure check. Make sure he or she knows what medications or drugs you are using as well as any type of stress or other situations you may be facing.

Eat a diet of foods rich in fruit, vegetables, fish and healthy oils, and match your calorie intake to physical activity. Limit your salt intake and avoid concentrated sweets and saturated fats, as well as trans fats. Exercise for at least 30 minutes a day, most days of the week.