Addressing the role of family history in heart disease risk

For years, there has been a fair amount of confusion related to the “nature versus nurture” concept as it relates to the development of the disease. Studies do suggest that a person’s family history does, in fact, have some connection to the risk of potentially serious conditions like heart disease. This means if a parent, grandparent, aunt, or uncle has or had heart disease, there is a higher likelihood that you will, too. On the other hand, we mustn’t take this news as a given. Studies also suggest that heart health is heavily influenced by lifestyle factors. If there is a natural element for heart disease in your family tree, the nurture elements of lifestyle become that much more important to long-term health. What might those nurture elements be?

Physical Activity

The heart is a muscle. Like all muscles, the heart can be strengthened. How you do this is up to you. The American Heart Association recommends 75 minutes a week of vigorous exercise for heart health. If you prefer more of a moderate pace of exercise, you need about twice that amount (approximately 2 hours total) to reduce the risk of plaque buildup in the arteries.

Health Conditions

To manage health conditions that can contribute to heart disease, you first need to know where you stand in terms of health and wellness. A thorough physical exam can alert your healthcare provider of any elevated measurements, such as high cholesterol or high blood pressure. With good management of existing health conditions, the risk of heart disease can be reduced.

Diet

Dieting used to be primarily associated with losing weight. Today, we understand much more about the importance of eating well. Heart health is directly related to the foods on our plates. For optimal heart health, experts recommend that we consume lean proteins in moderation, combined with whole grains and an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables.

Smoking

We hesitate to repeat this longstanding advice, thinking that everyone must know that smoking hurts the cardiovascular system. And yet, people still smoke, so we must mention it again. If you smoke, your risk of heart disease is increased by 70 percent. One-fifth of all heart disease deaths are attributed to smoking. Quitting the habit is one of the best things you can do for your heart and long-term health.

Genetics and Then Some

Nature will always have some degree of involvement in health. However, you can nurture your body in numerous ways to offset inherent physiological risks. Our team is here to help you by providing diagnostic and therapeutic care as needed to address your concerns. Call 516-437-5600 to schedule a consultation in one of our New York offices.

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