What should you do if you have a family history of heart disease?
If you have a parent or sibling with heart disease, you have an increased risk of developing heart disease yourself. Cardiologist James Ampadu, MD, explained why it’s important to share this information with your doctor and what you can do to lower your risk.
“It is imperative to gather knowledge about your family medical history in general, but specifically when it comes to heart disease. Knowing your family medical history can allow early recognition, prevent pain and suffering, and potentially change the course of the disease for you,” said Dr. Ampadu.
When appropriate, genetic testing can be used to screen family members by identifying common pathologic genes involved in several heart diseases before signs and symptoms of the disease even appear. Your cardiologist, along with a genetic counselor can help you understand the risk of your inherited medical conditions and their consequences. Heart disease conditions range from coronary heart disease to heart arrythmia issues to heart failure.
What can you do to prevent heart disease?
While you can’t change the family you were born into and the genetics you inherited, there are risk factors of heart disease you can control.
Dr. Ampadu said making these lifestyle changes can make a big difference:
- Control your blood pressure
- Watch your cholesterol
- Manage your blood sugar levels
- Maintain an optimal body weight
- Practice moderate exercise
- Eliminate smoking and recreational drug use
- Limit your alcohol intake
If you know your family has a history of heart disease, taking control of these risk factors can impact whether or not you develop heart disease yourself.
“Remember, the best way to reduce the burden of a disease is to prevent the disease from happening,” said Dr. Ampadu.
Find a cardiologist you trust
We make it easier to get the care your heart needs, with cardiologists located near you.Learn More