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Sunday, April 20, 2014
Knowledge is one of your strongest weapons against heart disease.
Diseases of the heart and blood vessels - also known as "cardiovascular diseases" - can run in families. Therefore, knowing your family history can provide important information about your health risks. Talk to your family about their heart health history. Create a heart health family tree that you and your doctor can use today - and the next generation of your family can use tomorrow.
The first step is to talk to your immediate family:
Next, reach out to extended family:
If possible, gather information about cousins, great-uncles and great-aunts. It is also important to include information on relatives who are deceased. Here is the type of information you will want to gather:
Remember, your doctor may not be familiar with your family members. So it's also very helpful to provide information including each person's:
Turn Information into Action.
Even though you cannot change your family history, knowing your family history can help you reduce your risk of developing heart disease. By talking to your doctor about your heart health family history, together you can look for red flags that might indicate the need for:
People with a family history of heart disease and related conditions may have the most to gain from screening tests and lifestyle changes. Your doctor may refer you to a specialist, such as a doctor trained specifically in genetics or a genetic counselor who can determine your genetic risks.
Here are some examples of red flags that you can be "on the watch for" in your family history:
Additional red flags may exist. You can explore these with your doctor or genetic counselor. By understanding your genetic risk factors, you and your doctor can take preventive measures that may save your life - and the lives of your loved ones.
In addition to talking to your doctor about your family history, you can reduce your risk of heart disease by doing the following:
Resources to Help You
Many research studies are underway to help us learn about heart disease. Would you like to find out more about being part of this exciting research? Please visit the following links:
Last Reviewed: Jan 30, 2014
Amy Curry Sturm, MS, LGC
Associate Professor of Human Genetics
College of Medicine
The Ohio State University