Can heart attacks or other heart conditions be hereditary?
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There are many risk factors that can increase a person's chances of having a heart attack. Many of them have nothing to do with heredity. These include smoking, lack of exercise, eating a poor diet, and being overweight (which is potentially hereditary).
However, your family medical history also has an impact on your likelihood of having heart diseases and heart attacks. For example, a person whose parents developed some types of heart diseases when they were still at a relatively young age would have a heightened risk for those same diseases.
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Heart attacks per say are not genetic but some cardiovascular risk factors do carry a genetic component. For example, hyperlipidemia is transferred genetically in some families. If a family member has high cholesterol and or triglycerides, a subsequent descendant may also have this disorder. Keep in mind though that this does not mean that all descendant's will have the disease. Hyperlipidemia is a huge risk factor for adverse cardiovascular events like AMI (acute myocardial infarction), CVA (cerebrovascular accident), and PAD (peripheral artery disease).
Diabetes mellitus is another good example. If a blood relative is diabetic, future generations are "predisposed" to becomming diabetic as well. DM, like HLE, is a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease. This is one good reason to be familiar with your families medical history.
Heart attacks are usually caused by coronary artery disease (CAD) or artherosclerotic heart disease (AHSD). This is when the arteries become narrower due to cholesterol plague.
Family history and heredity are risk factors for heart attack. Other risk factors include smoking, high blood pressure, diabetes, and high levels of cholesterol. While there is nothing a person can do about heredity, a person can minimize heart attack risk by living a healthier lifestyle. For example, this means no smoking and eating foods that are healthier, including foods that are low in cholesterol. Exercise is also very important.
It is always important to know your family history and share this information with your doctor.
There is no clear documented evidence to say that heart attacks can be hereditary. However, certain conditions which may increase the risk are hereditary. Both hyper-tension i.e. high blood-pressure and diabetes i.e. high blood sugar enhance the risk of heart attacks, and both are hereditary. Hyperlipidemia, i.e. high cholesterol and high triglycerides, which is a contributory factor towards Acute Myocardial Infarction and Cerebro-Vascular Accident, is a hereditary disorder. There is a hereditary proneness to hardening of arteries which is a condition leading to heart attack. So the question of heredity or the genetic factor at the back of heart attacks must be more intensively looked into.
You'll hear people say that "heart attacks run in my family." It's not the heart attack itself that is hereditary but the underlying illness that caused the attack.
According to the American Heart Association, "a tendency toward heart disease or fatty buildups in arteries seems to be hereditary." For instance, if a parent or grandparent has high blood pressure, which can be a cause of heart attack, then you are at a greater risk of developing high blood pressure than would be someone with no family history of it.
The American Heart Association also warns that a person who was born with a congenital heart defect is more likely to have a child with a heart defect as well. Such defects run in my own family. My father had a heart murmur all his life, and he suffered a massive heart attack in his mid sixties. My father also had a sister who died from the condition called transposition of the great arteries, in which the arteries that supply fresh blood to the lungs and carry other blood away from the lungs were on the wrong sides, or transposed. Sadly, she died while still a toddler.
Many advancements have been made in the treatment of heart disease since my father's sister died. My own sister's first child was born with the same condition. But doctors were able to perform surgery on her to correct the defect when she was two weeks old. She is now a typical thirteen-year-old with no symptoms of any heart disease.
Visit the American Heart Association's web site for more information.
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