Are Heart Attacks Hereditary?   

Are Heart Attacks Hereditary?

Are Heart Attacks Hereditary?
Clinical Contributors to this story:
Shaddy Younan, M.D.

Anyone can be affected by heart disease, but your age, habits and family history can be key indicators when it comes to assessing individual risks.

Is it safe to say heart attacks can be hereditary? “Cardiovascular risk can certainly be inherited from one generation to the next,” says Shaddy Younan, M.D., a board certified cardiologist. “If you have a parent or a sibling affected by heart attack or coronary artery disease, your risk of those conditions is increased. In addition, in some patients, rare genetic factors can lead to heart failure.”

A number of heart-related conditions are often seen in multiple generations, including:

  • Arrhythmias
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Cardiomyopathy
  • High blood cholesterol
  • Heart failure
  • Coronary artery disease
  • Diabetes

Know Your Risk

Proactive screening is especially important if a family member has been diagnosed with heart disease or another heart disorder. “Proactivity and awareness are the best precautionary actions in preventing heart attack and stroke, which often occur without symptoms or warning signs,” says Dr. Younan. “The first sign of either can often be fatal.”

But through screening, you can detect an issue before it is beyond control. Screening options include:

  • AngioScreen is a comprehensive heart and vascular screening. This simple, noninvasive, 15-minute evaluation is designed to help you identify and understand your risk for heart disease and stroke.
  • CT Calcium scoring scans assess risk for heart disease and stroke by detecting calcium-containing plaque in your arteries––one of the leading causes of heart attack.

Lower Your Risk

Heart disease is often viewed as a genetic inheritance because families tend to share lifestyle habits, such as diet. High intake of sugar, fat and sodium lead to common conditions that can increase the likelihood of heart disease. “Our daily habits—although not hereditary—are typically learned, shared and passed between family members,” says Dr. Younan.

If you are at high risk for heart disease, consider a few lifestyle choices to lower your risk:

  • Get moving: Physical inactivity can lead to heart disease as well as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and diabetes. Light to moderate exercise is just as valuable for your health as intensive workouts can be. Ultimately, maintaining positive cardiovascular health is the goal.
  • Limit alcohol intake: Drinking too much alcohol can raise blood pressure and the risk for heart disease, too. Overconsumption of alcohol can also increase triglyceride levels, which is a fatty substance that thickens the blood and heightens risk.
  • Avoid tobacco products: Tobacco use increases the risk for heart disease and heart attack because nicotine raises blood pressure. In addition, carbon monoxide from cigarette smoke reduces the amount of oxygen that can move through the blood stream.

Next Steps & Resources:

The material provided through HealthU is intended to be used as general information only and should not replace the advice of your physician. Always consult your physician for individual care.


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