How to overcome a family history of heart disease

Health
Father and son spending time together.

Even if coronary artery disease runs in your family, it’s not inevitable you will face it, too.
A study published in the “New England Journal of Medicine” suggests that people – even those with a family history of heart disease – who maintain a healthy lifestyle have notably reduced rates of cardiovascular events.
“A history of heart disease in your family may make you more susceptible to coronary heart disease, but it’s far from the only determinant,” says Julie Pope, director of heart and vascular services at Tidelands Health. “Making healthy lifestyle choices has a huge positive influence on heart health.”

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The study found that four healthy habits impacted heart health even in those with a history of heart disease in their families:
• Not smoking
• Maintaining a healthy weight
• Regular physical activity
• Healthy diet
Researchers tracked participants between the ages of 45 and 64, rated them based on their genetic risk of heart disease and examined how lifestyle choices impacted their heart health.

Taking control of heart health

Researchers found that participants who incorporated more of the four healthy choices reduced their risk of suffering a heart-related event. The finding applied regardless of the individual’s level of genetic risk.
“This study shows that the more of these healthy choices you make– not smoking, maintaining a healthy weight, getting regular physical activity and eating healthy—the less your risk of suffering a heart-related event,” Pope says. “That’s a very positive and important message.
“You have the power to take control of your heart health through the choices you make.”

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