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Heart Health

Know Your Family Heart Health History

Heart Disease

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.


Create Your Heart Health Family Tree.

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:

Red Flags2 red flags

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.


Take Charge of Your Life.

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


Hope Through Research - You Can Be Part of the Answer!

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:

This information is being reprinted with permission from the Medical Genetics Program at OSU Medical Center and the Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

For more information:

Go to the Heart Health health topic, where you can:

Last Reviewed: Jan 30, 2014