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Heart Disease: Will I Get It If I Have A Family History? Expert Explains

Each year, millions of people succumb to heart diseases like heart attacks and cardiac arrests. But not many are sure if they are genetic or not.

Heart Disease: Will I Get It If I Have A Family History? Expert Explains

Heart disease happens to be the no. 1 killer in the world


  1. Heart disease happens to be the no. 1 killer in the world
  2. Heart diseases are genetic
  3. Genetics are a non-modifiable risk factor of heart diseases

Heart disease happens to be the no. 1 killer in the world. Each year, millions of people succumb to heart attacks, cardiac arrests, and other heart diseases. But, it is still unknown if it is genetic or not, unanswered question. Thousands of people out there wonder if their kids will suffer from a heart attack or not if they themselves suffered one in the past. So here we are, answering your queries and providing you with a definite answer to this question.

Also read: Will regular exercise prevent heart disease?

Cardiologist Dr. Vinod Sharma says, "Heart diseases are genetic. There is a certain percentage of patients whose family has a history of heart diseases. By family, we refer to the parents and the immediate family. If the parents had suffered a heart attack or they contracted heart diseases at a young age, 55 and less, then their children are also likely to get heart diseases. This happens only when any person in the immediate family, including cousins, uncles, and aunts, contract a heart disease at a young age (less than 55)."

Types of heart diseases: 9 most common forms

Heart diseases can be of many types. Here's a list of the 9 most common forms of heart disease. 

  • Angina
  • Arrhythmia
  • Atrial Fibrillation 
  • Hypertension
  • Cardiomyopathy 
  • Heart valve problem
  • High cholesterol
  • Heart failure 
  • Myocardial infarction

Also read: How To Avoid Heart Disease Later In Life

If heart attacks are genetic, then what is the impact of unhealthy lifestyle on heart diseases?

It is also believed that heart diseases are caused due to unhealthy dietary choices and habits. However, Dr. Sharma says that these are just the risk factors. He said, "Unhealthy dietary choices like high-fat foods, no exercising, smoking, and drinking are just the risk factors. They are not the causes of a heart disease. There are two things. First is the gene responsible for heart disease. And second are the environmental factors which modify the behavior of that gene."

Also read: Can we plan a child after a heart attack?

What are the risk factors of heart diseases?

When we say risk factors, we refer to certain habits or conditions which can increase your likelihood of contracting a disease. So is the case with heart diseases. Certain factors can increase your risk of contracting these diseases, but we cannot conclusively say that they will affect you with heart diseases. These risk factors include: 
  • Hypertension 
  • High cholesterol
  • Diabetes
  • Smoking
  • Obesity
  • Family history 
  • Physical inactivity
  • Age (above 55)

"Diabetes, hypertension, unhealthy diet, smoking, and high cholesterol are not the causes of heart disease. They are the risk factors. So people with these health conditions are more likely to get affected by heart diseases," he added.

"However, it is not necessary that all people with diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol will have heart disease. Likewise, it is not necessary that a person with heart disease will surely have high blood pressure or diabetes or cholesterol. This goes for heart attacks as well," Dr. Sharma concluded.

Also read: Never Overlook These Symptoms, They May Indicate Heart Disease

So to conclude, we can say that genetics is a non-modifiable risk factor for heart diseases. However, if you do not carry that gene, then a healthy lifestyle can keep you safe from contracting heart diseases later in life. Nevertheless, a balanced diet and workout routine can keep you safe from heart diseases in the first place.

(Dr. Vinod Sharma is a cardiologist at the National Heart Institute)

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Disclaimer: This content including advice provides generic information only. It is in no way a substitute for qualified medical opinion. Always consult a specialist or your own doctor for more information. NDTV does not claim responsibility for this information. 


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